Skip to main content

Full text of "Human life as the biologist sees it"

See other formats


EXCHANGE 




BIOLOGY 

LIBRARY 

G 



THE COLVER LECTURES 
IN BROWN UNIVERSITY 
1921 



HUMAN LIFE AS THE BIOLOGIST 

SEES IT 

BY 
VERNON KELLOGG 



BROWN UNIVERSITY. THE COLVFJR ^CTtfEBS, 1921; 



HUMAN LIFE 

AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 



BY 
VERNON KELLOGG, Sc.D., LL.D. 

SECRETARY, NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL; SOMETIME 
PROFESSOR IN STANFORD UNIVERSITY 




NEW YORK 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 
1922 






BIOLOGY 

LIBRARY 

G 



COPYRIGHT, 1922, 
BY BROWN UNIVERSITY 

AU rightt reserved 




THE Colver lectureship is provided by a fund of 
$10,000 presented to the University by Mr. and 
Mrs. Jesse L. Rosenberger of Chicago in memory of 
Mrs. Rosenberger's father, Charles K. Colver of the 
class of 1842. The following sentences from the letter 
accompanying the gift explain the purposes of the foun- 
dation: 

"It is desired that, so far as possible, for these lectures 
only subjects of particular importance and lecturers emi- 
nent in scholarship or of other marked qualifications 
shall be chosen. It is desired that the lectures shall be 
distinctive and valuable contributions to human knowl- 
edge, known for their quality rather than their number. 
Income, or portions of income, not used for lectures may 
be used for the publication of any of the lectures deemed 
desirable to be so published." 

Charles Kendrick Colver (1821-1896) was a graduate 
of Brown University of the class of 1842. The necrol- 
ogist of the University wrote of him: "He was distin- 
guished for his broad and accurate scholarship, his 
unswerving personal integrity, championship of truth, 
and obedience to God in his daily life. He was severely 
simple and unworldly in character." 

The lectures now published in this series are: 

1916 

The American Conception of Liberty and Government, by 
Frank Johnson Goodnow, LL.D., President of Johns 
Hopkins University. 

1917 

Medical Research and Human Welfare, by W. W. Keen, 
M.D., LL.D. (Brown), Emeritus Professor of Sur- 
gery, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia. 

V 



1918 

The Responsible State: A Reexamination of Fundamental 
Political Doctrines in the Light of World War and the 
Menace of Anarchism, by Franklin Henry Giddings, 
LL.D., Professor of Sociology and the History of 
Civilization in Columbia University; sometime Pro- 
fessor of Political Science in Bryn Mawr College. 

1919 

Democracy: Discipline: Peace, by William Roscoe 
Thayer. 

1920 
Plymouth and the Pilgrims, by Arthur Lord. 

1921 

Human Life as the Biologist Sees It, by Vernon Kellogg, 
Sc.D., LL.D., Secretary, National Research Council; 
sometime Professor in Stanford University. 



vi 



CONTENTS 
PART I 

PAGE 

INTRODUCTORY 3 

1. HUMAN ORIGIN AND RELATIONSHIPS. ... 8 

2. THE BIOLOGIST AND PRESENT MAN 37 

PART II 

1. THE BIOLOGIST AND WAR 49 

2. HEREDITY AND HUMAN PROBLEMS 64 

3. THE BIOLOGIST AND THE REPUBLIC .... 90 

PART III 

1. THE BIOLOGIST AND EVERYDAY LITE ... 96 

2. THE BIOLOGIST AND DEATH 106 

3. THE BIOLOGIST AND SOUL 118 

4. THE BIOLOGIST AND THE FUTURE 



vn 



HUMAN LIFE 
AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 



HUMAN LIFE 
AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

i 

INTRODUCTORY 

WHILE engaged in the work of Mr. 
Hoover's relief organizations I saw a good 
deal at very close range of the behavior of 
men at war. I saw a constant struggle 
in the case of some of these men in posi- 
tions of authority between two elements 
in their make-up; a brute element inherent 
in them as a biologically inherited ves- 
tige of prehistoric days, and a strictly 
human element more recently acquired 
and transmitted to them by education 
and social inheritance. Sometimes one ele- 
ment dictated their behavior, sometimes 
the other. Sometimes, unfortunately, 
the element of education reinforced the 
element of brute inheritance. The exist- 
3 



HUMAN LIFE 

ence and influence of these two usually 
conflicting parts of human make-up were 
made especially clear and sharp because 
of the unwonted and continuous stress of 
the whole situation. It was an unusual 
opportunity for the biologist-student of 
human life to observe the relative strength 
of these two factors which play their parts 
in the determination of the behavior and 
fate of us all. Are we, in our present 
evolutionary stage, more animal than 
human or more human than animal? 
And why? And can any attempt at 
scientific analysis of present human 
make-up give us knowledge that will 
enable us to live more rationally, more 
successfully, more happily? 

As detached and cool-blooded as he can 
possibly be in his contemplation of the 
make-up and the capacities and behavior 
of human beings, the biologist is neverthe- 
less often overcome by those same feelings 
of awe and reverence in the face of the 
"wonders of human life," which over- 
come other less cool-blooded persons. 
4 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

Jn his laboratory and study he may assure 
himself that he is dealing only with an 
unusually complex, highly-endowed, and, 
in every way, remarkable animal, and 
reassure himself, in the face of the diffi- 
culties of the biological analysis of this 
animal, by remembering how he has been 
able to reveal, and, in some measure, 
explain the make-up and capacities of 
other at first baffling animals. But in 
his home with his family, and in his social 
intercourse with his friends and acquaint- 
ances, he sometimes loses the confidence 
of his laboratory hours. My wife and 
little girl are confusingly different from 
that impersonal thing, man as a lab- 
oratory subject, which I persist in 
hoping to analyze into pieces and prop- 
erties capable of scientific explanation, or 
at least description. There is something, 
or many things, in all the human beings I 
know personally, and something in my- 
self, which make them and me very dif- 
ferent from the samples of the species 
that I study in the laboratory. 
5 



HUMAN LIFE 

And yet as biologist I persist in this 
study, and I follow closely and hopefully 
the similar studies of other biologists, 
using this term to mean, in this instance, 
men variously called morphologists, phys- 
iologists, psychologists, sociologists, econ- 
omists, political scientists, and historians, 
some of whom may object to being called 
biologists but most of whom are glad to be 
so called. And in my talks to you, at the 
courteous invitation of the authorities of 
Brown University, and as the incumbent 
for this year of the lectureship endowed 
by one of Brown's loyal and generous 
alumni, I shall try to tell you quite simply 
and frankly something of the biologist's 
attitude toward human life as a problem 
he feels bound to study, and of what he 
thinks he has found out and what he 
knows he has not found out in the course 
of his study as so far prosecuted. 

I started studying human life as a 

biologist by studying first plants, then 

birds, and, finally, and for a long time, 

insects. This might be called my under- 

6 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

graduate course in human life. I began 
my graduate course first with a baby, 
my own for special subject, and then as 
she grew older I turned to something 
easier, just men and women with whom I 
had less personal relations and knew only 
as representatives of the animal species, 
man. I found that I could not advisedly 
let my serious biological studies be in- 
terfered with by such incidental but, 
some way, very confusing, things as 
sympathy and love and pride and hope. 



HUMAN LIFE 



HUMAN ORIGIN AND 
RELATIONSHIPS 

THE biologist pays much attention to 
origins; often too much. Two things can 
have a common or related origin and yet 
acquire differences in the course of their 
development which make, for all practical 
purposes, two very different things out of 
them. Quantitative differences may come 
to be so great that they have all the 
practical effect of qualitative differences. 
Or qualitative differences, very small, in- 
deed, when measured by the chemist or 
physicist and described in the terminology 
of their sciences, may have very large 
effects in the practical relation of the 
substances or things exhibiting them. 
The sugar-loving man who eats a little 
of a certain substance which the chemist 
assures him is made up of the same 
numbers of atoms of the same three 
kinds of chemical elements of which 
8 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

sugar is composed, although these atoms 
are arranged within the molecules in a 
way slightly differing from their arrange- 
ment in sugar, may find himself poisoned 
instead of strengthened. Or, the man 
who accepts the statement of the zoologi- 
cal morphologist that the nervous system 
of a certain animal differs primarily 
from that of another in that there is not 
quite so much of it, but that it is, as far as 
it goes, of essentially the same kind, and 
who therefore expects to find his first 
animal exhibiting the same kind of sense, 
only not quite so much of it, as his 
second, will be much surprised when he 
becomes really acquainted with the sense 
differences of his two animals. 

Nevertheless the biologist has good 
grounds for paying much attention to 
commonness of origin and similarities of 
structural make-up in his attempts to 
read the riddle of life, even human life. 
Things that have come from the same 
thing, or that have a fundamental like- 
ness of structure, are bound to have some 
9 



HUMAN LIFE 

commonness of capacity and behavior. 
And so the biologist in his approach to 
man as a subject of scientific scrutiny is 
deeply interested in the possible unravel- 
ing of the tangled and broken skein of 
his biological history. Whence and how 
has he come into being? And into being 
in the particular form and condition 
which now characterize him? Can human 
characteristics be found in less complex 
stage of development and organization 
elsewhere in the world of life? And if the 
human body shows no radical qualitative 
differences from other animal bodies what 
will be the significance of this to the 
biologist in his attempt to study and 
appraise human life? 

As to human origin the biologist finds 
no tangible evidence to support any other 
explanation than the now familiar and 
widely-accepted one of evolution from 
pre-existing lower animal kinds. For this 
explanation he does find what is, to him, 
practically convincing evidence. It is of 
no very great interest, certainly of no 
10 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

very great importance to most of us, 
if we once accept this evolutionary ex- 
planation of origin, whether man is 
traced backward to this or that particular 
kind of anthropoid ape, or other less 
anthropoid ancestor. However, when we 
watch a chimpanzee for some time we 
come to have a hope that he is not the 
particular anthropoid whom the biologist 
would ask us to recognize with any 
filial admiration or affection. The feeling 
is even more marked when the orang-utan 
or the gorilla is the object of our curiosity. 
It is true, though, that if we watch a 
chimpanzee long enough a rather unset- 
tling feeling is likely to grow on us that 
there is something uncannily familiar 
about him. He seems to be a caricature 
of some people we know; he behaves curi- 
ously like some children, other people's 
children, that we recall. 

I had an experience with a chimpanzee 

once in Berlin, which sticks always in my 

memory. I was giving at the time, as a 

student of zoology, some special attention 

11 



HUMAN LIFE 

to anthropoids, and used to go out almost 
daily to the Zoological Gardens where I 
had become acquainted with the keeper 
of the apes. He had a favorite chimpan- 
zee which he used to keep with him a 
great deal in his own room or office, and 
I got into the habit of dropping in fre- 
quently for an afternoon chat with the 
friendly pair. The keeper was a rather 
stolid sort of person who seemed to me to 
possess a marked paucity of human feeling 
and expression. On the other hand the 
chimpanzee seemed possessed of a wide 
range of human-like interests and feelings 
and was fascinatingly varied and interest- 
ing in his expression of them. The con- 
viction even grew on me that he was 
almost the more human of the two. 
He rarely paid me the compliment of 
showing any special recognition of me or 
interest in me. I seemed to lack any 
special traits of attractiveness for him. 
But when one day, with the permission of 
the keeper, I brought an American fam- 
ily with me who had with them a coal 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

black, extremely African negress as nurse- 
maid, the chimpanzee was so animatedly 
friendly to this dear old mammy from the 
very first moment of her entrance that 
she soon fled, screaming with horror and 
fright. I shall never forget the strong 
impression made on me of the chimpan- 
zee's immediate apparent recognition of 
Matilda as an old acquaintance; she was 
the kind of human being he knew about 
and was interested in. Yet as he had been 
brought to the Gardens as a baby and 
had had really no personal acquaintance- 
ship with negroes, if he really knew Ma- 
tilda or had some sense of relationship 
with her, it must have been a case of 
biological memory. 

However, the biologist does not claim 
that we are directly descended from the 
chimpanzee or any other particular an- 
thropoid or particular lower kind of 
monkey that we know, either living or 
extinct. Some biologists favor an origin 
from a generalized Lemurine type, others 
from a Tarsius type, and others venture 
13 



HUMAN LIFE 

to claim a breaking away from the 
quadrumanous group much higher up in 
its series, seeing in the anthropoids and 
man the latest and highest two diverging 
branches in the tall genealogical tree of 
human ancestry. That anthropoid and 
human structure are too fundamentally 
and minutely similar to be coincidence or 
anything else than true homology, and 
hence indisputable evidence of a common- 
ness of origin, the biologist simply accepts 
as a biological fact without regard to his 
feelings of friendliness or unfriendliness 
for chimpanzees and their immediate 
relatives. 

I This structural evidence of ancestral 
relationship between the anthropoids and 
man is, of course, added to by several 
other well-known kinds of likenesses, 
physiological, psychological, and even 
ecological. The similarity of the chemical 
character of the blood of the two groups 
as evidenced by the identity of its re- 
actions in the face of certain stimulation, 
the so-called precipitin reactions, these 
14 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

reactions differing from those of the 
blood of other higher mammals, is a 
notable modern addition to the biological 
evidence for anthropoid and human rela- 
tionships. For the same identities or 
close similarities in blood character occur 
in the case of other kinds of animals well 
known to be closely related, as the wolf 
and dog, or the horse and ass, and do 
not occur when the blood of two less 
closely related animals is tested. 

A less important and less well-known 
added bit of evidence is one that came 
under my own observation a few years 
ago during the course of some study of 
certain highly specialized external insect 
parasites of man and some other mam- 
mals. In this study it became apparent 
that the kinds of these parasites character- 
istic of and limited to men and apes are 
more closely related to each other than 
they are to parasitic kinds characteristic 
of the other quadrumana or of any other 
mammals. That is, the parasites of the 
apes are even less closely related to those 
15 



HUMAN LIFE 

of the other monkeys than they are to 
those of man. This points to a probable 
commonness of origin of the now slightly 
differentiated parasites of men and apes 
from some parasite ancestor which may 
have helped make life uncomfortable for 
certain common ancestors of the anthro- 
poids and early men. 

The biologist finds another evidence of 
man's place in nature as simply one among 
the various groups of mammals, in the 
conditions of the physical variation among 
different human races, or species, as they 
would likely be called by any entirely 
disinterested student of human kind. If 
an expedition of scientific gentlemen from 
the Academy of Sciences of Mars, say, 
should some day find its way to our 
planet, they would doubtless report to 
their colleagues, on their return, the 
discovery of a considerable number of 
earth-inhabiting different species of man, 
and might issue a classificatory mono- 
graph on them not unlike one of our own 
monographs on the various species of 
16 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

bears. Our attempts at classifying the 
bears, you know, are attended by a good 
deal of discussion as to whether some of 
the different kinds are just different races 
or varieties of one species or whether 
they truly represent different species. As 
a matter of fact, I suppose this doesn't 
much worry the bears; it only worries the 
scientists. 

There is also some suggestive evidence 
about man's position in Nature to be 
derived from the facts of the geographical 
distribution of his different races. The 
suggestiveness comes from the interesting 
resemblance of the status of this distribu- 
tion to that obtaining generally among 
the higher vertebrates. Dr. J. C. Mer- 
riam, the distinguished paleontologist and 
student of the history of the human 
species, has especially stressed this fact 
and its significance. Just as the distribu- 
tion of the members of a group of mam- 
mals or birds indicates in fairly clear 
outlines a classification of these members 
such as would be made on a basis of their 
17 



HUMAN LIFE 

comparative structure, so the different 
subdivisions of human kind show a 
similar parallel in their distribution and 
structural similarities or dissimilarities. 

Now the essential point of all that has 
just been said concerning man's striking 
structural similarity to certain higher 
animals and concerning his likenesses to 
them in other ways, physiological, varia- 
tional and distributional, is that in these 
similarities the biologist finds convincing 
proof of man's origin from, and definite 
relation to other forms of life. And this 
must be ever in our minds in all our 
subsequent discussion. But before point- 
ing out any of the probable special 
significances to the biologist student of 
human life of the undoubted evolutionary 
derivation of man from lower, non-human 
forms of life, let us glance briefly at 
another aspect of the consideration of 
human origin, namely, the pre-history 
of man as an animal of unmistakable 
human estate, but of much more primi- 
tive human culture than he is at present, 
18 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

a history that the discoveries and investi- 
gations of the last score of years have 
done more to reveal than had all study 
previous to the beginning of this century. 

The search for relics of man, both of his 
body and his handiwork or culture, may 
be, and has, in fact, been, pursued in two 
slightly different special ways. The his- 
torian may trace man back to the days of 
earliest history as recorded by preserved 
books and scripts. Then the archaeolo- 
gist and ethnologist may carry the story, 
ever more broken and incomplete, back 
by study of his scattered carved hiero- 
glyphs and monuments and implements. 
Such studies take us back to days of the 
earliest civilizations of China and Egypt 
and Asia Minor and Crete. 

Here the archaeologist hands over the 
search to the anthropologist and paleon- 
tologist, whom he finds have been working 
from the other end, that is, from earlier 
periods up to later ones instead of from 
later ones back to earlier ones, and have 
been working rather as students of biol- 
19 



HUMAN LIFE 

ogy and geology than students of human- 
istics. Man for them is an animal whose 
evolutionary history is to be traced, 
as that of other animals is traced, by 
finding and studying his fossils or the 
preserved products of his handiwork, or 
those of his forebears, in their relation to 
successive geologic formations, hence to 
time. It is to the paleontologist and 
historical anthropologist, therefore, that 
we look for facts concerning the very 
earliest days of man's existence. How 
far back in geologic time, how long ago as 
estimated in years and centuries, does 
man seem to have lived on this earth? 
Where did he live? Does he first appear 
as scattered over all the land surface of 
the globe, as he now is, or was he originally 
limited to a certain part or parts of it? 
What sort of man was he in those first 
man days? What of his body? What of 
his habits, his culture, his relation as 
individual to others of his kind? Oh, 
there are many crowding questions we 
wish to put to the student of prehistoric 
20 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

man, too many to enumerate. And we 
really hang breathless on his answers. 
But before we listen to any of the an- 
swers let us note that the anthropologist 
in his attempts to satisfy his and our 
curiosity about primitive man has a 
second string to his bow in addition to 
that provided him primarily by the 
paleontologist. He recognizes in his 
study of the man-group, just as the 
general biologist does in his study of any 
group of animals or plants, that the 
present existing members of his group 
are not all of equal evolutionary advance- 
ment or chronology. There are always 
some of a type less advanced or special- 
ized, and some of types more advanced. 
The less advanced are usually presumed 
to be older in their evolutionary origin 
than the more advanced, so that although 
they all live now side by side and at the 
same time, some may be looked on as in a 
form or stage of greater primitiveness or 
antiquity as compared with others. This 
is indeed quite true of the various living 



HUMAN LIFE 

kinds or races of man. The native 
Australians, the Veddahs of Ceylon, the 
Ainos of Japan, the Bushmen of Central 
Africa and several other scattered similar 
small groups do represent in their physical 
structure, mental capacity and general 
culture more primitive stages in human 
evolution than those represented by the 
larger Caucasian, Mongolian, Negro and 
Polynesian groups that comprise the 
great majority of living men. 

In comparing the physical and men- 
tal character and the culture of these 
living primitive types with the character 
and culture of various extinct types of 
men, as indicated by their recovered 
bones and articles of handiwork, the 
anthropologist finds such similarities that 
he can refer with some confidence to 
these living primitive types as paralleling 
in many characteristics some of the more 
recent types of prehistoric man. He has 
not yet found alive that missing link 
between man and the anthropoids which 
some anthropologists have fondly iin- 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

agined may still be living in unexplored 
regions of Africa or Asia and to find 
which expeditions have been occasionally 
sent out, only so far to return empty- 
handed. Nor does he find any living 
types which can possibly be construed to 
parallel in their condition, or actually to 
be persisting remnants of, the most 
ancient or most primitive types of real 
men. But he gets nearer to understand- 
ing the life of man in those days when 
types of men now extinct were the 
highest types, by looking at human life 
as exhibited by the lowest types now 
living. 

What, then, are some of the specific 
facts which have been determined by 
paleontologists and anthropologists con- 
cerning prehistoric man? To try to tell 
the whole story is far beyond my inten- 
tion. We have neither time nor, indeed, 
need for it for the purposes of this dis- 
cussion. But the outstanding parts of it 
can be told in few words, and these parts 
are extremely pertinent to any general 
23 



HUMAN LIFE 

consideration of human history; to any 
special consideration of human life from 
the view-point of the biologist they are 
truly essential. 

I must recall to your minds that geol- 
ogists divide the eight hundred million 
years, more or less, of earth time into a 
series of successive ages characterized by 
differing kinds of rocks and by different 
floras and faunas, all, with the exception 
of the flora and fauna of the present age, 
now extinct. It is with only a few of the 
more recent of these ages that we need 
now concern ourselves in our search for 
the geologic evidence of man's origin. 
Of course, recent is a comparative term. 
It means, in the mouth of the geologist, 
something within anywhere from the 
last few hundred thousand to the last 
few million years. 

In the rocks of these more recent ages, 
beginning with an age called Lower 
Oligocene, and running on up through 
Upper Oligocene, Lower, Mid and Upper 
Miocene and Pliocene, have been found 
24 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

the fossil remains of numerous now 
extinct anthropoid apes. These have 
been found not only in Asia and Africa, 
to which continents the few living anthro- 
poids are now restricted, but also in 
Europe which so far has been the source 
of all but two of the most ancient human 
relics. I speak of these fossils as repre- 
senting numerous anthropoids; but nu- 
merous is also a comparative term; I mean 
by it, simply, considerably more kinds of 
anthropoids than now exist; and some 
of these seem to be of a higher specializa- 
tion than any living anthropoids. But 
the rocks of none of these ages have 
revealed any fossils of indubitable human 
creatures. The one case which may 
possibly constitute an exception to this 
statement is that of the famous Pithecan- 
thropus, a creature of which a few bones, 
to be specific, a skull cap, a femur and 
two molar teeth, probably belonging to a 
single individual, were found nearly thirty 
years ago in Java by Dubois. These 
relics were found in a situation which if 
25 



HUMAN LIFE 

it does not allow the fossils to be ascribed 
definitively to the Pliocene Age, in its 
very latest days to be sure, at least proves 
this relic to be an antiquity as old as the 
very beginning of the Pleistocene or 
Glacial Age. This is the age immediately 
succeeding the Pliocene and is the most 
recent of the geologic series, unless the 
period since the last great continental 
glaciers existed is given a special name, 
such as Recent (with a capital letter) 
or Present, to distinguish it from that 
period which included the several glacial 
and interglacial times now recognized as 
comprised in the so-called Glacial Age. 
Pithecanthropus has been variously 
hailed with joy as the long-sought missing 
link or looked on with scorn as an in- 
dividual degenerate human reversion, or 
looked on, with less emotion but more 
judgment, as a creature of very great 
interest and importance in the study of 
man's origin whether it be called highest 
of apes or lowest of men or whether it be 
excluded from the direct line of human 
26 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

genealogy and called an offshoot from 
this direct line, but one arising just before 
the line had culminated in undoubted 
human kind. In a famous discussion, 
held around the actual fossils brought by 
their discoverer to the Zoological Congress 
at Leyden in 1895, and participated in by 
an extraordinary gathering of the most 
eminent anthropologists of the world, 
five of these experts maintained that 
Pithecanthropus was an ape, seven that 
it was a man, and seven others that it 
was a transition form between man and 
the anthropoids. The discussion was one, 
you see, primarily of precise classification; 
there was practical agreement that this 
creature of uppermost Pliocene or lowest 
Pleistocene time was so much like an ape 
and at the same time so much like a man 
that it proved, if proof were still needed, 
that as far as structure, at least, is con- 
cerned the anthropoids and man differ 
only quantitatively and not qualitatively. 
Now Pithecanthropus lived at least 
from five hundred thousand to one million 
27 



HUMAN LIFE 

years ago; so that, if he really represents 
man in lowest human terms, we have had 
a human history on this earth of which 
the period since the earliest historically 
known civilizations of Egypt and Crete is 
a very small fraction. But that is not 
necessarily to disparage the possibility of 
a great deal of important human history 
occurring during that small fraction of 
time. The biologist is not so foolish as 
to suggest that extent of time alone is a 
measure of the importance of epochs in 
human history. For most of us that last 
one hundred-thousandth of the period of 
man's existence has a hundred thousand 
times more interest than all the rest. But 
the biologist believes that paying a little 
attention to prehistoric man may make 
the greater attention we pay to historic 
man more fruitful of a sounder under- 
standing of human character, capacity 
and possibility. 

We seem rather to have taken for 
granted that Pithecanthropus was the 
first man or obviously near-man type. 
28 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

If this is to be our starting point we ask 
the paleontologist if he has found a more 
or less continuous series of human fossils 
running forward from Pithecanthropus, 
both as to time and evolutionary develop- 
ment, up to now. His answer inclines 
to be, Yes. But, in truth, he has found 
comparatively few actual fossils or relics 
of human bodies and very considerable 
gaps exist in the series both as to 
gradations in structure and time periods 
represented. In fact, only one of his 
undoubted human relics goes back in 
geologic time to a period approaching 
that represented by Pithecanthropus. 

This oldest one is known as the " Heidel- 
berg jaw " because it was found in the 
Elsenz Valley not far from Heidelberg 
and is a lower jaw bone with almost all 
of the teeth in place. Comparing it with 
the present human jaw it is notable for its 
unusual size, lack of protruding chin, and 
great strength and thickness combined 
with unusual width of the region for the 
attachment of the muscles used in masti- 
29 



HUMAN LIFE 

cation. The teeth are large but not out of 
proportion to the size of the jaw. The 
jaw bone itself is more simian than 
human, but the teeth are more human 
than simian. Particularly notable in 
this respect are the canines which are 
not large and long, as simian and many 
other mammal canines are, but small 
and not extending above the level of the 
other teeth. However, in their size, 
heavy roots, and wide pulp cavities, all 
the teeth present characters which dis- 
tinguish them readily from human teeth 
of today. 

In addition to these very earliest actual 
remains of the bodies of man or man-ape, 
there have been found, in various local- 
ities in Portugal, France, Belgium, and 
England, and perhaps elsewhere, a con- 
siderable number of flaked flints in 
positions which undeniably refer them to 
a geologic time ranging back through 
Pleistocene into Pliocene and probably 
into an even earlier age. These flaked 
flints, which in higher or more complex 
30 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

stages of flaking are commonly known in 
connection with all of prehistoric man's 
later Pleistocene life, and even with 
present human life as exhibited by the 
more primitive living peoples, are, in 
their earliest forms known as eoliths 
the subject of much discussion. It has 
been shown that a certain simple flaking 
of flint stones can occur by natural 
physical means without the aid of living 
creatures. But many of these Pliocene 
or very early Pleistocene eoliths show such 
a kind of flaking, affording cutting edges 
and grips for firm holding in the hand, 
fitting them to be very simple weapons or 
tools, that many competent anthropol- 
ogists insist that they must have been 
produced by living creatures of sufficient 
wit and dexterity to make tools out of the 
material at hand most available for this 
purpose. Indeed, we can well imagine 
the first human beings picking up natur- 
ally partly flaked flints and then moving 
on to better tools or weapons by intelli- 
gently and deliberately further flaking 
31 



HUMAN LIFE 

them or flaking other flints found still in 
the form of heavy rounded pebbles of 
various sizes. 

The great importance of these eoliths 
to the student of early man is that if 
they are really man-made they help sub- 
stantiate the evidence of Pithecanthropus 
and the Heidelberg jaw as to man's 
probable origin in Pliocene time, or 
even earlier. If man did arise in Pliocene 
time then his antiquity is carried back 
by many hundred thousand years behind 
that later Pleistocene period in which 
we can be certain of his existence on the 
basis of undoubted human fossils. 

This Pleistocene or Glacial Age of 
which our present time may be reckoned 
the latest part, was a period of several 
hundred thousand years characterized 
by a succession of great continental 
glaciers sweeping down from the north, 
probably three on this continent and four 
in Europe, with separating interglacial 
times of considerably higher average tem- 
perature and hence climatic amelioration. 
32 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

In the times of the glaciers, animals of the 
colder regions as the mammoth, aurochs 
and the like occurred all over Europe 
even to its present southern boundaries, 
while in the warmer interglacial times 
animals characteristic of lower latitudes, 
even considerably lower than those of 
present southern Europe, replaced them. 
It is to this interesting age of alternating 
cold and warm periods that all the known 
actual older human fossils so far found 
in Europe, with the exception of the 
probably older Heidelberg jaw, already 
mentioned, are assigned. 

We have not time even to catalogue 
these relics of Pleistocene man, let alone 
refer to them in any detail. All that we 
can do, and indeed all that for our 
present purpose we need to do, is to say 
that skulls and teeth and arm and leg 
bones and other skeletal parts, sometimes 
very fragmentary, sometimes gratifyingly 
intact, together with simple stone and 
bone weapons and tools and primitive 
carvings and drawings on cavern walls, 
33 



HUMAN LIFE 

amounting in all to a very informing 
quantity of indubitable human remains, 
have been discovered and exhaustively 
studied, with the result of revealing the 
certain existence of man in Europe all 
through Pleistocene Time, or at least 
from the first interglacial period of the 
Pleistocene Age up to that comparatively 
modern time when the archaeologist and 
later the historian takes up the story of 
human kind. 

The careful study of all these Pleisto- 
cene relics of early man's body has en- 
abled anthropologists to distinguish cer- 
tain successive types of prehistoric man 
differing in some measure structurally 
and evolutionally, so that an older 
type, like Neanderthal man, distinctly 
shows stronger simian characters such as 
smaller brain case and more projecting 
orbital ridges, less chin and more jaw, 
more curving thigh bones and more 
opposed great toe, than a later type like 
Cro-Magnon man. And the exhaustive 
study of the collected thousands of speci- 
34 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

mens of early man's handiwork have 
enabled anthropologists to distinguish a 
series of successive human cultural stages 
distinguished by marked differences in 
the amount of variety and degree of 
elaboration of the weapons and tools and 
ornaments made and used by prehistoric 
man during Paleolithic, Neolithic and the 
early metal ages. It is indeed remarkable 
how far the students of prehistoric man 
have been able to go in picturing, with a 
high degree of presumptive correctness, 
the major features in prehistoric human 
life. They even know what other animals 
he knew, both from actual remains of 
these animals found in company with his 
own bones and from the crude carvings 
and drawings on cave walls made of 
these animals by prehistoric man himself. 
There are certain long limestone caverns 
in southern France whose walls are veri- 
table picture galleries of Cro-Magnon pre- 
historic art. The students of prehistoric 
man know also that many things that 
were a part of human life as we first 
35 



HUMAN LIFE 

know it historically formed no part of 
human life in Pleistocene time. Among 
the many thousand recovered specimens 
of prehistoric man's handiwork, there is a 
singular paucity of variety a few kinds 
are repeated over and over again with 
superficial changes which is a fact that 
reveals the limited resources and variety 
of occupations of this early human life. 
But we must not follow this inviting 
lead. Our aim in this discussion was 
simply to point out those more important 
facts in the biologist's knowledge which 
bear on the problem of man's emergence 
from the gray mists of prehistoric time 
and the welter of strange animal life that 
characterized those early days. And this 
we have done. 



36 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 



THE BIOLOGIST AND PRESENT MAN 

Now all this consideration of man's 
origin prepares, even compels, the bio- 
logical student of present-day human life 
to recognize many characteristics of this 
life as vestigial, that is, as carried over 
from pre-human life and from prehistoric 
human life. It compels him also to face 
the fact, that if the human body and its 
capacities are recognized as derived by 
the more or less understood processes of 
organic evolution from other lower animal 
bodies and endowments, with no intro- 
duction of supernatural means to give 
human life qualitatively different capaci- 
ties supernatural ones, they might be 
called then he must not only expect to 
find human life influenced by inherited 
carry-overs from man's animal ancestors 
but he must expect to find the human 
body and its behavior and its fate subject 
in greater or less degree to the influence 
37 



HUMAN LIFE 

of all those general conditions and so- 
called laws of biology such as those of 
heredity, variation, selection, mutation, 
growth, the influence of environment, 
etc., which apply to all living things, to 
all substance and capacities of substance 
organized as living matter. 

But he must be prepared to go even 
farther. The biochemists and physicists 
have made much progress recently in 
showing that many of the long-accepted 
familiar distinctions between living and 
non-living matter must be given up and 
that living matter is fundamentally only 
a much more complex association or 
state of the same substances that compose 
other matter and that therefore it is 
largely controlled in its behavior just as 
other matter is controlled, namely, by 
physical and chemical conditions and 
stimuli. The Royal Society Christmas 
lectures given in 1916-1917 before Lon- 
don popular audiences by Dr. Arthur 
Keith, the famous English anatomist, 
physiologist, and anthropologist, have 
38 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

recently been published in book form 
under the title "The Engines of the 
Human Body," and if you are interested 
in knowing the essential likenesses be- 
tween your body and a motorcycle read 
this book. It at least reveals how the 
modern biologist can plausibly describe 
the body and its functions in the termi- 
nology of mechanics and chemistry. So 
that the biological student of human 
life must be prepared to take constantly 
into account the results of the investiga- 
tions and the significance of the claims 
of the upholders of the physico-chemical, 
or mechanistic, conception of life. 

Facing all this you can see how neces- 
sary it is for the biological student of 
human life to have, if he is not to be 
carried off his feet at once into the camp 
of the cynical and hopeless complete 
mechanists, a wife and child at home to 
return to from his laboratory. If I my- 
self am not yet convinced that all of 
humanism is to be dumped together with 
all the rest of Nature into the common 
39 



HUMAN LIFE 

pot of chemicalism it is chiefly owing to 
my wife and child. 

Not that I cannot recognize in them the 
presence of bodies composed of engines, 
and of living tissues and organs com- 
posed of substances, mostly very complex, 
but at bottom made up of the same 
chemical elements which make up the 
less complex substances of non-living 
matter. Nor that I cannot perceive in 
them the results of the influences of the 
biological laws that I find also in the 
various lower forms of life. 

But I find mare in them, so much more 
indeed, that although my scientific train- 
ing and knowledge urge me to look on 
this more as only quantitatively more, 
my /common sense and general experience, 
let alone my recognition of the limitations 
of scientific knowledge, compel me to see 
in them the manifestations of natural 
possibilities so far removed from or in 
advance of those manifestations as re- 
vealed in non-living matter or in the 
whole range of the rest of the world 
40 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

of life, that, for all practical purposes, 
these two human beings, and hence all 
others, must be looked on as possessed 
of at least some qualities and capacities 
essentially different from those found 
anywhere else in Nature. 

But this is not at all to say that I must 
recognize anything supernatural in these 
qualities. They may simply be such 
different and such extraordinary natural 
qualities that all the study of the most 
widely versed and wisest student of all 
the rest of Nature will not enable him to 
understand these special human qualities 
and capacities on the basis of this study 
alone. The scientist can be bigot just as 
well as the theologian, politician, or any- 
body else. And that scientist who would 
pretend to say that because he has 
studied Nature all his life and has fa- 
miliarized himself with what has been 
learned about Nature by all the other 
naturalists, he can dogmatically declare 
what are the limitations of natural possi- 
bility, is simply a bigot. Just as are those 
41 



HUMAN LIFE 

theologians or philosophers who without 
having studied Nature at all pretend to 
be able to say the same thing. However 
extraordinary the special qualities that 
I cannot but see in the human being, and 
can never see in other kinds of living 
beings, I am still not necessarily driven 
to look on man as something out of or 
beyond Nature. In fact I see so much in 
him that is familiar elsewhere in Nature 
that I would have quite as much difficulty 
in explaining why this is so, if he is super- 
natural, as I now have in trying to explain 
all of him in terms of the Nature which is 
revealed in studying physics, chemistry, 
and the natural history of plants and the 
lower animals. 

Altogether, then, in approaching the 
study of human life from the standpoint 
of the biologist who is not a bigot, but 
who is after all a biologist and not theo- 
logian or metaphysician, we must take 
fairly into account all that the study of 
the rest of Nature allows us to make use 
of in understanding certain aspects of 
42 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

human life, and yet must guard ourselves 
against the assumption that because we 
understand the life of starfishes pretty 
well we are sufficiently equipped with 
knowledge to be confident of explaining 
human life in terms of magnified starfish 
life. Even if I can declare with almost 
perfect certainty what will be the color 
of the eyes of the children of two blue- 
eyed parents, and with much confidence 
what kind of mental equipment the 
children of two congenitally feeble-minded 
parents will have, because I am familiar 
with a biological law discovered by a 
naturalist who studied heredity in garden 
peas, and because I have noted that this 
law applies equally well to certain silk- 
worm characters and, finally, to various 
human traits, I am in no position to say 
whether your children will believe in God 
or not, be Republicans or Democrats or 
Bolshevists, write poetry, or rob banks, 
or live in settlement houses. I may be 
able to make a fair prognosis of the de- 
gree of resistance to tuberculosis which 
43 



HUMAN LIFE 

your children will exhibit during their life 
but I can make no least guess as to their 
probability of dying in a future war with 
Germany. I feel pretty certain about 
what will happen to the human body after 
death but whether that is the whole sig- 
nificance of death in relation to a human 
being, I, not being a scientific bigot, am 
J not at all certain. I am not a spiritist 
but if I claimed to be able to say that 
there are and can be no spirits, I should 
be claiming to know the whole order of 
Nature. And that no naturalist, nor any- 
one else, does know. 

All that the naturalist can claim is that 
he knows a part of the order of Nature, 
and if some part of human life comes 
within that known part of the order 
of Nature then he insists that anyone 
seriously considering human life must 
take cognizance of this knowledge of 
his. Men who in discussing the possi- 
bility of a league of nations doing away 
with war, argue against such possibility 
on the assumed premises that fighting is 
44 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

inherent in human nature and that human 
nature does not change, are not taking 
into account the biologist's certain knowl- 
edge that human nature does change. 
The educator or prison reformer who 
claims that you can do anything with any 
man by education and environment does 
not take into account the biologist's 
knowledge of the unescapable influence on 
human fate of inherited traits. He 
knows that it is perfectly true that you 
cannot put a thousand dollar education 
into a fifty dollar boy. But well meaning 
people keep trying to do this all the time. 
We have, then, to face, in our further 
consideration of human life from the 
point of view of the biologist, two rather 
sharply contrasted things. One thing 
is that the biologist does have a certain 
positive knowledge of some conditions 
or factors that do help to determine the 
course of human life. The other thing 
is that the course of human life is partly 
determined by a set of conditions which 
are, so far at least, quite outside the 
45 



HUMAN LIFE 

v special knowledge of the biologist. He 
can guess about them and wonder about 
them just as other people do, but he has 
no right to claim that he knows about 
them. If some biologists do make this 
claim it is probably because they are 
carried away by the interesting sensation 
of knowing anything at all about what 
has been so long called "the mystery of 
life." A famous biologist of the mechan- 
istic-conception-of-life school once said 
to me, as he saw me find my way to a 
certain corner seat in a restaurant with 
bench seats along the walls, that the 
reason why I tried to find a corner seat 
was because I was positively thigmo- 
tropic, that is, that I was irresistibly im- 
pelled, as a sand flea is, to get my body into 
as much contact as possible with solid sur- 
roundings. The fact is that I had made, 
several days before, an appointment with 
a friend to meet him in that corner. 

The human being has such power of 
dislocating his reactions to stimuli both as 
regards time and space that his behavior 
46 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

cannot be prophesied by any naturalist 
with ever so complete knowledge of the 
reflexes and tropisms exhibited by very 
simple animals. That is, the inevitable 
and immediate responses of Paramoecium 
or houseflies or just hatched spiderlings 
to physical and chemical stimuli, which 
responses, in sum, compose their be- 
havior, may have their vestiges in man 
and do have certain parallels, as in the be- 
havior of the internal organs and certain 
external reflexes. But for the most part 
man turns towards or away from light, or 
finds a seat in a corner or out away from 
the room walls, because he is influenced 
by factors very different from simple 
physical and chemical ones, factors which 
may be of a week ago or a mile away. It 
is these non-mechanistic factors or con- 
ditions in human life, and their results, 
that constitute that part of human life, 
which is peculiarly the human part, that 
the biologist must hesitate to be dogmatic 
about. Yet this part must ever have a 
seizing interest for him that is, if he 
47 



HUMAN LIFE 

is himself human and not made over 
by too much association with Paramoe- 
cium to be more like his Protozoan pet 
than like the rest of his own species. 
In our continuing consideration of 
human life, therefore, as the biologist 
sees it, we shall not hesitate to touch upon 
any of the phenomena and problems 
presented by this life whether they be 
clearly within the province which the 
biologist can pretty confidently claim 
as his, or in that other province which less 
clearly belongs to him but which he may 
believe he has at least as much right as 
anyone else to venture into. He can at 
least peer about in this other province to 
see if any stray sheep of his own are to be 
found in it. Certainly in many of the broad 
problems of human life arising in connec- 
tion with such subjects as education, mili- 
tarism, eugenics, delinquency, and others 
usually regarded as chiefly belonging to 
the province of humanistics, he can readily 
perceive biological aspects. That may be 
his excuse for approaching them. 
48 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

II 
THE BIOLOGIST AND WAR 

IN our preceding discussion we had a 
fleeting glance at the evidence which 
convinces the biologist that man is to be 
regarded as an evolutionary derivation 
from older and lower forms of life; 
and hence that in attempting to under- 
stand human life he must ever have an 
eye open to the influences on it of the 
persisting vestiges of earlier kinds of life 
which are certainly in it. Also, if man is 
to be regarded as in and a part of Nature 
and not out of or beyond it, we must 
be ready to recognize the part, however 
large or small, played in determining his 
fate by those biological factors or laws 
which play so dominant a part in the 
determination of the character and fate of 
the lower animals. 

But man by virtue of his social devel- 
opment and educational inheritance has 
49 



HUMAN LIFE 

gone so far above the lower animals in 
his evolutionary progress, has become so 
sublimated a kind of animal, reveals 
such mysterious special powers and attri- 
butes, that we must be very careful not to 
imagine that we can understand his life 
on the sole basis of ever so exhaustive a 
knowledge of the life of the lower animals. 
But the mysteries in his make-up need 
not lead us to mysticism in our attempts 
at their explanation. We would much 
better be agnostic than mystic. At least 
that is the position which the biologist 
student of human life must take if he is to 
stand consistently in line with his scien- 
tific training and experience. 

We may assume, then, that we have 
adopted, in our present quest for knowl- 
edge and understanding of human life, a 
certain attitude, scientific, but open- 
minded and not bigoted, and gained a 
certain general orientation. With this 
clearing of the atmosphere we are ready 
to move forward in our quest. Too often 
we make our start in studying human life 
50 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

by throwing out a smoke-cloud in front 
of us. What we need rather is as much 
clearance of the atmosphere as possible. 
I do believe science, rational science, not 
bigoted science, gives us that. 

How apparently baffled we stand at 
present before the great problem of war. 
How confusing and contradictory are the 
statements vehemently made by the pro- 
tagonists of differing beliefs concerning 
it. There is no consensus of men regard- 
ing it, not even regarding its desirability 
or undesirability, let alone concerning its 
inevitability or the possibility of doing 
away with it. 

I had during 1915 and 1916 a peculiar 
opportunity of hearing set forth as ably, 
probably, as the argument can be pre- 
sented, the reasons which lead some men 
to believe that war is not only inevitable 
through all human existence but desir- 
able. Part of this argument came to me 
with special interest because it was based 
on grounds of biology and biological 
law. It came from certain officers of the 
51 



HUMAN LIFE 

German General Staff living at German 
Great Headquarters in Occupied France. 

For several months, as chief representa- 
tive of Mr. Hoover's relief organization 
in Occupied France I had to live, by the 
convention of agreement between us and 
the German government, at this Head- 
quarters, where all my activities could be 
under the keen eyes of the German 
General Staff. Out of this came my 
special opportunity of hearing this argu- 
ment from important sources, for in such 
forced close association we necessarily 
came to a status of more or less frank 
exchange of opinions. 

One of the Staff officers was in civil 
life a professional biologist of much re- 
pute, a professor of zoology in one of the 
larger German universities whom I had 
known years before in student days in 
Leipzig. Other officers of higher military 
rank but less academic training expressed 
in more brutal terms the same argument, 
but the professor-officer's speeches were 
the more plausible as he understood 
52 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

better the language and the theories of 
biological evolution and was the better 
able to anticipate and guard against the 
reasoning that might be used by other 
biologists to refute him. We had many 
warm debates. 

I tried during the war to tell the 
American people, as far, at least, as it 
might be reached through the Atlantic 
Monthly, something of the nature of the 
German arguments from biology why 
there must always be war, why there 
ought to be war, and even why Germany 
should win in the war then being waged. 
For I believed that Americans should 
know something of this feeling and 
attitude of the German people or of a 
large, and certainly very influential, part 
of them. I do not wish to repeat here, too 
much of what I have presented in the 
Atlantic articles. But we need, for the 
purposes of our present discussion, to 
recall the essential features of this claim, 
for this argument from biology for the 
inevitableness and even the desirability 
53 



HUMAN LIFE 

of war has been used, and is used today, 
by others than Germans. 

The argument to which I have referred 
is based on the assumption that natural 
selection is the all-powerful factor, almost 
the sole really important factor in organic 
evolution. And that as man as an 
animal species is subject to the control of 
the same major evolutionary factors as 
control the other animal kinds, his evolu- 
tionary progress or fate is to be decided on 
the basis of a rigid, relentless, natural 
selection. It is the argument from a 
post-Darwinian point of view that goes 
much beyond Darwin's own concep- 
tions. 

Natural selection itself, as you know, is 
the outcome of a bitter and persistent 
struggle for existence, in which struggle 
the fittest or fitter survive while the less 
fit become either much modified or ex- 
tinguished. This struggle has three chief 
phases. 

1. An inter-species struggle, or the 
lethal competition among different animal 
54 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

kinds for food, space, and opportunity to 
increase; 

2. An intra-species struggle, or lethal 
competition among the individuals of a 
single species, resultant on the over- 
production due to natural multiplication 
by geometric progression; and 

3. The constant struggle of individuals 
and species against the rigors of climate, 
the danger of storm, flood, drought, cold, 
and heat. 

Now any animal kind and its individ- 
uals may be continually exposed to all of 
these phases of the struggle for existence, 
or, on the other hand, any one or more 
of these phases may be largely amelio- 
rated or even abolished for a given species 
and its individuals. This amelioration 
may come about through a happy acci- 
dent of time or place, or because of the 
adoption by the species of a habit or mode 
of life that continually protects it from 
a certain phase of the struggle. 

For example, the voluntary or involun- 
tary migration of representatives of a 
55 



HUMAN LIFE 

species hard pressed to exist in its native 
habitat, may release it from the too 
severe rigors of a destructive climate, 
or take it beyond the habitat of its 
most dangerous enemies, or give it the 
needed space and food for the support 
of a numerous progeny. Thus, such a 
single phenomenon as migration might 
ameliorate any one or more of the sev- 
eral phases of the struggle for exist- 
ence. 

Again, the adoption by two widely dis- 
tinct and perhaps originally antagonistic 
species of a commensal or symbiotic 
life, based on the mutual-aid principle- 
thousands of such cases are familiar to 
naturalists would ameliorate or abolish 
the inter-specific struggle between these 
two species. Even more effective in the 
modification of the influence due to a bit- 
ter struggle for existence, is the adoption 
by a species of a social or communistic 
mode of existence so far as its own in- 
dividuals are concerned. This, of course, 
would largely ameliorate for that species 
56 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

the intra-specific phase of its struggle for 
life. 

As a matter of fact, this reliance by 
animal kinds for success in the world upon 
a more or less extreme adoption of the 
mutual-aid principle, as contrasted with 
the mutual-fight principle, is much more 
widely spread among the lower animals 
than familiarly recognized, while in the 
case of man, it has been, in connection 
with high brain development and the 
acquirement of the power of speaking 
and writing, the greatest single factor in 
the achievement of his proud biological 
position as king of living creatures. 

Altruism or mutual aid, as the biol- 
ogists prefer to call it, to escape the 
implication of assuming too much con- 
sciousness in it is just as truly a funda- 
mental biologic factor of evolution as is 
the cruel, strictly self -regarding, extermi- 
nating kind of struggle for existence with 
which the Neo-Darwinists try to fill our 
eyes and ears to the exclusion of the 
recognition of all other factors. 
57 



HUMAN LIFE 

This mutual aid, as a biologic or natural 
factor, has influenced materially, as I 
have said, the mode of life, the biologic 
success and the character of the evolution 
of many kinds of lower animals. In their 
case it was not we presume consciously 
chosen or consciously developed. In the 
case of man, however, where also mutual 
aid has been a fundamental factor in 
determining the mode of life and the 
success and character of the evolution of 
the species, and where in the beginning 
also it may have been entirely uncon- 
sciously taken on, we face an important 
new thing in relation to it; that is its con- 
scious development. Indeed, it is the high 
development of mutual aid plus a high 
degree of brain power plus the existence of 
something we call spirit or soul in man, 
all of these interacting on each other to 
the advantage of the further development 
of each, that really distinguishes man from 
other animals and makes him human. 
This conscious development of mutual 
aid, or altruism, by man demands some 
58 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

further consideration in connection with 
our present consideration of the problem 
of war as the biologist faces it. 

An essential thing to keep in mind in 
this connection is that man differs mark- 
edly from other animal kinds in having 
two kinds of inheritance often confused 
because of the use of the common term, 
inheritance, for both kinds. He has a bi- 
ological inheritance this is real heredity, 
inherent in him and responsible for much 
of his physical and mental condition, and 
for that instinctive behavior, partly in- 
dispensable for the actual maintenance 
of his life and health, as in the obvious 
cases of the suckling of babes and the 
winking of the eyelids and the less no- 
ticed actions of his internal organs, 
but partly no longer indispensable, in 
his present stage of evolution, as in the 
cases of various brute performances, once 
necessary to his self-preservation. He 
has also a social inheritance, not a part of 
his heredity, but playing a very important 
and conspicuous role in his life, especially 
59 



HUMAN LIFE 

in his less material, his higher life as we 
are accustomed to call it, in other words 
the part of his life that especially charac- 
terizes and makes especially worth while 
being human. Man is not born with this 
social inheritance in him as his biological 
inheritance is in him, but with it all 
about him, ready for him and certain to 
be, in some measure, imposed on him. 
He is born into it rather than with it in 
him. 

This social inheritance consists of tradi- 
tion, of recorded history, of precept and 
example, in a word, of education. It is 
possible because of mutual aid and speech, 
writing and printing. Other animals, es- 
pecially a few of the higher ones, may 
also enjoy a certain social inheritance, 
but man's social inheritance is so incom- 
parably greater and more important in 
determining the character of his life, that 
he is in this respect practically qualita- 
tively different from all other animals. 

Now with all this in his eyes the biol- 
ogist interested in the problem of the 
60 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

inevitability of war and the desirability 
of it sees the situation as reducible to 
rather simple terms. If man prefers to 
be ruled in his relation to fighting and 
war by his biological inheritance with 
its vestigial carry-overs from prehuman 
and prehistoric human days, and does 
not care to oppose to it his power of 
conscious development and magnification 
of his social inheritance to the end of 
making it victor over his brute heredity 
something that he has successfully done 
in relation to many other things then 
war will persist. If he decides, as the 
Germans seemed to, that the best way 
to develop the highest type of man and 
human culture is to depend solely on 
the natural selection based on a ruth- 
less physical life-or-death determining 
struggle for existence, with a survival and 
dominance of the physically strongest, 
then war is desirable. 

But if he recognizes that he must take 
into account in his study of human 
development another evolution factor, not 
61 



HUMAN LIFE 

less natural, and of proved effectiveness, 
which is based on the mutual aid principle 
instead of the mutual murder principle, 
and one which can be backed by all the 
force of social inheritance to counteract 
certain opposing influences of biological 
inheritance, then war need be to him 
neither inevitable nor desirable. 

The protagonists of inevitable war 
declare that human nature does not 
change. The biologist declares that 
human nature does change both by 
virtue of the influences of strictly 
biological factors and especially, more 
rapidly, by virtue of the influences of 
social inheritance. Human nature to- 
day, which is certainly not the same as 
human nature in early Glacial Time, is 
quite as much the resultant of the work 
of social inheritance factors as it is of 
factors of biological inheritance. Human 
nature, not just the part that is in- 
herited, but the whole of it, including 
the part that is acquired by each gen- 
eration, not only changes but can be made 
62 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

to change in definite direction by educa- 
tion, and it can be made to change with 
reasonable rapidity, a rapidity that seems 
very rapid indeed to the biologist accus- 
tomed to see change mostly depend on 
slowly modified heredity. 



HUMAN LIFE 



HEREDITY AND HUMAN PROBLEMS 

THIS all too slight discussion and all 
of our discussion can be only sugges- 
tive, not exhaustive of biological and 
social inheritance in connection with the 
war problem, brings us naturally to a 
consideration of certain other problems 
of human life in connection with which 
this distinction between biological and 
social inheritance, and their conflict and 
relative importance, are of special in- 
terest. 

It has been so much the fashion lately 
to emphasize the importance of a consid- 
eration of purely biological conditions 
and laws in the discussions of human 
problems a wise fashion, undoubtedly 
that some too hasty and thoughtless 
readers and hearers of such discussions 
may have gained the impression that the 
only biology to consider in this connection 
was the biology which one learns from a 
64 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

study of the behavior and evolution of 
kinds of life lower than human-kind. 
Some biologists have helped spread this 
impression. 

But they do wrong to do this. They are 
misled by their desire for simplist or 
monist explanations. It is a great econ- 
omy of thought, a good example of the 
Occam's Razor principle, to push toward 
a monist explanation of natural phenom- 
ena. The German war philosophy, if it 
was an honest philosophy and with many 
Germans it was honest, was a monist 
philosophy. If natural selection can and 
does explain the evolution of plant and 
animal life and if man is only a form, 
rather unusually complex, of animal life, 
then his evolution, too, is to depend on 
this ruthless all-powerful natural selec- 
tion. 

Well, even granting both premises 
and the first one cannot be granted 
the conclusion is wrong: man has more 
in his life than is in the life of sea-urchins, 
birds, or apes. And this more does 
65 



HUMAN LIFE 

not necessarily mean something more 
than or different from biology although 
many of you probably believe that it 
does. The biology of man is much more 
than and different from the biology of 
other animals because of the social in- 
heritance element in it if for no other 
reason. 

The biologists who help lead us to the 
fascinating but, I think, false belief that 
human biology is to be all understood 
some time on the basis of lower animal 
biology alone, that all that is in man 
is in lower animals although in much 
simpler terms, have let their zeal and 
enthusiasm make them overlook the 
revelations that their wives and children, 
their friends and their own selves make 
to them every day. The trouble is they 
leave their philosophic consideration of 
human life to their laboratory hours. 
They give up being philosophers when 
they get home and become just human 
beings, taking things as they come and 
thinking about them in different terms. 
66 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

They think about them in terms of money 
and trouble and pleasure, and love and 
hate, and personal hopes and chagrins, 
which are peculiarly human terms. That 
is why I repeated so many times in my 
first lecture, and repeat now again, that 
we biologists must take into account in all 
our looking at human life the things 
that we see at home as well as the things 
we see in the laboratory. If we do not we 
overlook the greatest things in the great- 
est problems of human life, the things 
that really make human life human. 

But let us turn now to one or two more 
of those problems which especially involve 
in their consideration this matter, in- 
troduced by our reference to the war 
problem, of the two kinds of inheritance 
and the relations between them. 

The problem that I have especially 
in mind at this moment introduces con- 
spicuously the subject of human heredity. 
Is a man what he is because he is born so ? 
or because he becomes so by education, 
using education in the broad sense of 
67 



HUMAN LIFE 

including all environment? Of course 
this is the old, old problem of nature and 
nurture, already threshed out, one might 
imagine, to its last possible degree. But 
if that were true for yesterday it is not 
true for today, for the reason that we 
are daily, almost, finding out new things 
about heredity. Since the beginning of 
this century we have learned more that 
seems to be fact about heredity, plant 
and animal heredity in general and hu- 
man heredity in particular, than had been 
learned in all previous time. 

In the 1860's an Augustinian monk 
named Gregor Mendel, living in a clois- 
ter in Brunn in Moravian Austria and 
possessed not only of a divine humility 
and devotion but of the divine spark 
of scientific curiosity, or as we call it in 
scientific circles, research, carried on an 
extensive lot of experiments in the cloister 
garden in the way of hybridizing various 
races of garden peas; he was a Moravian 
Burbank. He read an account of his 
observations and conclusions before the 
68 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

local natural history of Brunn and they 
were published as two brief papers in the 
obscure proceedings of this obscure soci- 
ety of local naturalists. And there they 
lay apparently unnoticed for thirty years. 
Odd how an epoch-making thing can be 
put into the world, and lie unnoticed for a 
third of a century! 

In 1900 three eminent European bot- 
anists, one in Austria, one in Germany 
and one in Holland, working separately 
on heredity problems, each independently 
and all almost simultaneously, discovered 
and made known Mendel's work. Today 
Mendelian inheritance, Mendelism and 
Mendel are words of almost as much 
significance to naturalists as Darwinian 
selection, Darwinism and Darwin. 

With the work and theories of Mendel 
and the three botanists, Tschermak, 
Correns and De Vries, as stimulus and 
basis, there has been an energetic pushing 
on of heredity studies, with a rapid 
gaining of many facts and much under- 
standing until now we are able con- 
69 



HUMAN LIFE 

fidently to make statements about the 
heredity mechanism and behavior really 
startling in their preciseness and practical 
importance. We can make enough proph- 
ecies about the outcome of many cases 
of mating to give us sufficient basis to 
warrant us in modifying our social in- 
heritance in directions to increase ad- 
vantages or decrease disadvantages de- 
rived from biological inheritance. 

Before Mendel and the post-Mendel- 
ians, about the only so-called law of 
heredity that had been formulated was 
Galton's generalization to the effect that 
an individual receives one-half of his 
inheritance from his two parents, one- 
fourth from his four grandparents, one- 
eighth from his eight great grandparents, 
one-sixteenth from his sixteen great, 
great grandparents and so on by de- 
creasing fractions back to the beginning 
of ancestors, the total of these fractions 
equalling 1, or the total biological inheri- 
tance of the individual. Very interesting, 
but not very specific as to just what 
70 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

particular traits, physical and mental 
and Galton was almost the first to include 
mental traits in heredity on the same 
basis as physical traits interesting, I 
say, but not very specific as to just what 
particular traits one is going to get in the 
respective J^, J4, Y& etc., from the 
respective parents, grandparents, great 
grand-parents, et al. And that is really 
what we burn to know. 

I remember a red-headed boy among 
my early companions whose parents were 
brown-haired, and this boy used to won- 
der why he was red-headed. By constant 
reminders we never let him cease wonder- 
ing. Finally his parents discovered that 
back in the ancestral line there had 
existed another shock of flame. And 
parents and red-haired son were satisfied 
to say that he was a "throw-back" to 
great grandfather William; red hair was a 
part of the one-eighth of his inheritance 
that the boy got from his great grand- 
parents. 

Mendelism makes no such broad gen- 
71 



HUMAN LIFE 

eralizations as Gallon's but it makes 
much more precise ones. It does not 
treat of halves or quarters or eighths of 
one's whole inheritance but of the inheri- 
tance of specific characters, as hair-form, 
eye-color, susceptibility or resistance to 
particular disease, and feeble-mindedness. 
I am talking of human traits and human 
heredity now. Among plants it treats 
of leaf shape, flower pattern, height of 
stem, and other characters. Among 
silkworms it treats of larval coloration 
and pattern, color of cocoon, number of 
generations a year, and others. And so 
on. I might make a long list of specific 
traits, structural and physiological, in a 
long list of plant and animal species, and a 
rather impressive list for the human spe- 
cies, about the inheritance of which quite 
specific and precise things can be affirmed 
as a result of the intensive study of 
heredity that has been done in the last 
twenty years. 

All of these things are interesting and 
some are both interesting and useful. 
72 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

You can see the utility to the breeder of 
silkworms if I am able to say to him that 
if he will cross a silkworm moth of a 
certain race which spins yellow silk with 
one from a certain white-silk spinning 
race and it makes no difference whether 
the male or the female be either of the 
white or the yellow silk race; there is no 
factor of sex-potency in the outcome he 
will get a progeny of silkworms all of 
which spin yellow cocoons, but that if for 
a second generation he mates two of these 
yellow-spinners together he will get a 
brood of which three-fourths will spin 
yellow cocoons and one-fourth white 
cocoons, while if for a third generation he 
mates two of these white spinners together 
he will get a brood all of which will spin 
white, and only white cocoons, while if he 
mates all of the yellow spinners inside 
their group he will get from one-third of 
these matings broods which spin nothing 
but yellow cocoons but from two-thirds 
of them broods which spin both yellow 
and white cocoons in the precise propor- 
73 



HUMAN LIFE 

tion of three-fourths spinning yellow and 
one-fourth spinning white I say if I 
can tell a silk grower these things as 
facts which he can rely on and I can 
actually do this as a result of my own 
experiments and observations he will 
find them not only interesting but useful. 
Think what such knowledge of heredity 
means to the plant and animal breeder. 
And then think of what similar knowledge 
concerning the inheritance of human 
traits may mean in human life. 

The example I have given of the hered- 
ity behavior of a certain silkworm charac- 
teristic is a case of typical Mendelian 
inheritance. The inheritance of blue or 
brown eyes in men follows the same 
course; so does six and five-fingeredness; 
so does a certain form of color blindness 
paired with color visualness; so does 
Huntington's chorea paired with freedom 
from this fatal infirmity; so does, although 
in less perfect form, feeble-mindedness 
paired with full-mindedness. Mendelian 
inheritance is the order or behavior of the 
74 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

heredity of specific unit characters. Not 
all traits are inherited according to the 
Mendelian order, but many are. This 
order can be found out if it exists and 
then predicted. 

It must be found out by experiment 
(in lower animals and plants) or observa- 
tion (in human beings) for each specific 
trait in each species of plant and animal 
and for man. The order cannot be 
predicted for another species on the 
basis of knowledge in one species; nor for 
man on a basis of knowledge in lower 
animals. The inheritance of each trait is 
independent of the inheritance of any 
other trait, with the exception of occa- 
sional yoked or grouped traits which 
behave as a single unit. It is unit inheri- 
tance where single characteristics are the 
units, not fractional inheritance where all 
the traits or the whole individual is the 
unit. It will take a long time to work out 
the order of heredity for all the Mendeliz- 
ing traits, physical and mental, which 
the human species possesses, but it can be 
75 



HUMAN LIFE 

done; and then we can bring to bear the 
power of our social inheritance to make 
human life rapidly better by encouraging 
the good and discouraging the bad in 
biological inheritance. 

But we do not have to wait until we 
know the order of inheritance for all our 
traits before we can begin to use wisely 
this new knowledge of heredity that 
began with the revelations of the Augus- 
tinian monk Mendel about the inheri- 
tance of stem length and pod shape and 
seed coat of garden peas. We can begin 
on a basis of the knowledge of the heredity 
behavior of a single trait. Let me give 
you an example. 

For a long time the characters consid- 
ered in studies of heredity were exclu- 
sively physical ones. Just as in the 
beginning days of anatomical study man's 
body was considered too sacred to be 
submitted to dissection, so in the begin- 
ning days of heredity study man's mental 
traits were considered too sacred for 
scientific analysis. It was Galton, as I 
76 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

have already said, who first, in any con- 
spicuous way, included mentality along 
with physical characters, as subject of 
studies in biological inheritance. In- 
deed he gave more attention to the in- 
heritance of mental capacity than to that 
of physical traits. His first important 
book on inheritance is called "Hered- 
itary Genius." It is interesting to note, 
in passing, that Galton's studies and their 
publication were made after Mendel had 
done his work, but before Mendel's work 
had been discovered and made known to 
the world. 

Ever since Galton, students of human 
heredity have paid attention to the in- 
heritance of mental traits and general 
mental capacity. It is a fascinating thing 
to trace the descent of genius or great 
talent through the succeeding generations 
of a family. The Bach family contributed 
fifty notable musicians to the world in 
five generations. The death of the 
astronomer K. H. Struve a few months 
ago called attention to the fact that his 
77 



HUMAN LIFE 

father and grandfather, Otto and F. G. 
W. Struve, respectively, were also em- 
inent astronomers, all three having been 
gold medalists of the Royal Astronomical 
Society. Three sons of Charles Darwin 
have shown mental capacity above the 
average. 

But if unusual mental capacity is 
heritable so also is unusual mental in- 
capacity, and because marked incapacity 
becomes a social danger or, at least, 
burden, much special study has been 
given it in recent years. The matter 
interests not only students of heredity, 
but sociologists, educators, and criminol- 
ogists. For mental incapacity or in- 
sufficiency revealed in children as marked 
backwardness and feeble-mindedness per- 
sists in adults as feeble-mindedness and 
imbecility, and poses a series of grave 
problems concerning the social relations 
of these unfortunates. 

One of the most interesting practical 
outcomes of this intensive study of mental 
sub-normalcy has been the development 
78 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

of ingenious intelligence tests, with point 
scales, by which a definite rating for 
intelligence can be determined for any 
individual. These tests were first devised 
for children but modifications of them 
have been used for adults. An extensive 
use of these tests, with highly successful 
results, was made during the war for 
rating American soldiers and officers. 
Indeed the success of this method of 
testing and expressing intelligence has 
been one of the most brilliant and useful 
modern contributions of psychology to 
practical life. 

An interesting and useful feature in 
connection with the tests is the expression 
of their results in terms of mental age 
which may be contrasted at once with the 
actual age of the individuals tested, so 
that the degree of mental retardation or 
advancement is made manifest in readily 
understandable terms. Thus a child of 
12 years of age may be found to have a 
mental age of but 8 years, meaning that 
the intelligence of this 12 year old child 
79 



HUMAN LIFE 

is only on a par with the intelligence 
of an average normal child of eight. In 
addition, as the mental age indicates 
only the general level to which the 
intelligence of the individual has devel- 
oped at the time the tests are applied, a 
measure of the actual rate of mental 
development of the subject, called the 
"intelligence quotient," is used. This 
intelligence quotient is the percentage 
ratio between the mental and chronologi- 
cal age of the subject. Repeated tests 
of the same children at intervals of one to 
four years have indicated that the in- 
telligence quotient of a given child re- 
mains practically constant between the 
ages of ten and sixteen years. By reason 
of its relative stability, therefore, the 
intelligence quotient becomes a reliable 
and useful index of intelligence. Once 
determined, it is possible to predict by it, 
within reasonable limits, the probable 
level to which a given individual's in- 
telligence will develop. From a rather 
wide experience of these specific ratings 
80 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

of mental age and intelligence quotient, 
certain general categories of mental ca- 
pacity or incapacity have been established 
and are now commonly used by psychol- 
ogists. At bottom is the category feeble- 
minded, then, in ascending order, border- 
line, dull-normal, average-normal and 
superior. 

Much special study has been given 
feeble-mindedness by students of heredity 
in the last decade and it has been fairly 
satisfactorily proved that this mental 
condition is not only an inherited con- 
dition, but that it may be looked on as a 
unit human trait following the general 
Mendelian order as regards its mode of 
inheritance. If this is really so and it is 
hardly any longer open to doubt it has 
obviously a most important significance 
in connection with the whole problem 
of education. It must make us face 
squarely the situation that there are 
limits to the educability of certain in- 
dividuals and that we should somewhere 
call a halt on the vain efforts we are 
81 



HUMAN LIFE 

making to put the same kind and 
amount of education into all kinds of 
pupils. 

This fact of the heritability of feeble- 
mindedness has also an important sig- 
nificance in connection with a particular 
social problem, that of juvenile delin- 
quency, for it has been proved beyond 
much doubt by the studies of Goddard, 
Davenport, Kuhlmann, Williams and 
others that feeble-mindedness and delin- 
quency are all too often closely linked in 
terms of cause and effect. Dr. Williams 
has recently published the detailed re- 
sults of an exhaustive study made by him 
of 470 delinquent boys (ages 6 to 22 years) 
in California. His monograph is the 
record of an admirable piece of investiga- 
tion conducted in an unprejudiced and 
rigorously scientific manner, with care 
to consider all the details and possible 
influence of environment as well as of 
heredity on the subjects of his study. 
Its results can be expressed in few words, 
and they are results which are confirmed 
82 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

by a large amount of similar investigation, 
especially those of Goddard. 

Williams finds that about one-third 
of his juvenile delinquents are feeble- 
minded and that nearly one-half are 
border line or dull-normal in mental 
rating, while only about one-fifth are 
average-normal or superior. If the per- 
centage of the various mental rating 
classes in two groups of California boys 
of similar ages are compared, one group 
being Williams' 470 delinquents and the 
other a group of one thousand boys taken 
at random from all classes of the popula- 
tion, we note the following suggestive 
facts: Superior rating, delinquent group, 
3%, miscellaneous group, 20%; average- 
normal rating, delinquent group, 19%, 
miscellaneous, 60%; dull-normal rating, 
delinquent, 21%, miscellaneous, 10%; 
border-line rating, delinquent, 27%, mis- 
cellaneous, 8%; feeble-minded, delin- 
quent, 30%, miscellaneous, 2%. The 
association of feeble-mindedness with ju- 
venile delinquency is positive. 
83 



HUMAN LIFE 

But not all delinquency is due to feeble- 
mindedness. In Williams' group of delin- 
quent boys, 19% are rated as of average 
normal intelligence and 3% of superior 
intelligence. Altogether, in Dr. Williams' 
judgment, about one-third of California 
juvenile delinquency, which is a first step 
toward confirmed adult criminality, is 
due to hereditary mental deficiency, an- 
other third to other undesirable inherited 
traits and the final third to unfortunate 
environmental conditions. There are, 
then, two kinds of causes of juvenile 
delinquency, and two kinds of remedies 
are required to combat these causes; one a 
remedy of better environment, the other a 
remedy of being better born. Which is a 
natural introduction to a few words on the 
general subject of eugenics. 

Poor word eugenics, and such a good 
word, too. But the comic papers and 
comic stage and the sadly comic capers of 
the all too serious cranks and all too un- 
wise and too extreme would-be friends 
have made this good word almost im- 
84 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

possible; much more, they have seriously 
hurt the repute of the really good idea it 
stands for. To be well born is certainly an 
excellent thing to achieve; anyone con- 
templating being born would like to 
arrange it. Racial well-being is certainly 
an advantageous thing for a race; any 
people would like to possess it. Well, 
eugenics means these things, not surgi- 
cal sterilization of men or women, state 
controlled breeding of children, abolish- 
ment of love, or any or all of these or the 
other special exaggerations or ugly fancies 
which have been made synonyms of 
eugenics by humorists, scoffers, or cranks. / 
Eugenics bases its claim as a subject V 
for reasonable and sympathetic considera- 
tion on two grounds: first, the acknowl- 
edged power or influence of heredity for 
good or ill in helping to determine hu- 
man fate; and, second, the acknowledged 
power which we have in education for 
encouraging good and discouraging bad 
human heredity. The great recent in- 
crease in extent and precision of our 
85 



HUMAN LIFE 

knowledge of heredity adds materially to 
the possibility of making eugenics a sub- 
ject entirely worth serious and active con- 
sideration. The more we know of the 
mechanism, the order and the results of 
biological inheritance, the more we can 
develop and make use of a social inheri- 
tance which shall help to make individuals 
and peoples better born. 

Guyer in his excellent little book, en- 
titled "Being Well-Born," gives a striking 
example of what bad and good inheritance 
can mean by giving the facts in the case 
of two lines of descent; one, which we 
may call Line A, came from a normal 
father mated to a feeble-minded mother 
and the other, Line B, from the same 
normal father mated to a normal mother. 
In five generations of Line A, 480 direct 
descendants included 143 known to be 
feeble-minded, 291 of unknown or doubt- 
ful mentality, 36 illegitimate, 33 sexually 
immoral, 24 confirmed alcoholics, 3 epi- 
leptics, 3 criminals, 8 keepers of dis- 
reputable houses, 82 dead as infants, 
86 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

and only 46 known to be of normal 
mentality and character. In five genera- 
tions of Line B, 496 descendants were all, 
with but one exception, which was a case 
of religious mania, of normal mentality. 
But two were alcoholics and none was 
epileptic or criminal. Only 15 children 
died in infancy. Practically all the mem- 
bers of this line were good representative 
citizens including judges, lawyers, doctors, 
educators, business men, etc. 

The notorious Jukes, Kallikak, Nam, 
Piney, and Zero families, the Tribe of 
Ishmael, the Hill Folk, and the descen- 
dants of Margaret, Mother of Criminals, 
which have been studied by various 
students of heredity, show conclusively 
what bad heredity can do for individuals 
and society. It is estimated that the 
Jukes family alone, with its 300 profes- 
sional paupers, 440 physical wrecks from 
debauchery, 50 prostitutes, 60 habitual 
thieves, 7 murderers, and 130 other 
convicts out of a total of 1200 identi- 
fied descendants, has cost the state of 
87 



HUMAN LIFE 

New York over a million dollars for the 
care of its criminal, defective and immoral 
members. We may deem it fortunate for 
us, and for them, that 300 of its known 
progeny died in infancy. 

To be a eugenist does not necessarily 
mean to be a crank. It means to be a 
person interested in such tangible revela- 
tions as I have just referred to of the 
wholesale misery and social injury possi- 
ble from bad heredity, and willing to 
approve and actively support whatever 
can be done wisely by education and legal 
provision to prevent repetition of this 
sort of thing. It means to be a person 
willing to use common sense, scientific 
knowledge, and prevision for the good of 
his own family, society, and the race. 
Karl Pearson has pointed out that one- 
half of England's new generation is being 
produced by the most hereditarily un- 
fortunate one-fourth of England's popula- 
tion. Bad heredity is outstripping good 
heredity in England. No amount of 
after education or good environment can 
88 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

make good this fundamental bad start in 
life. A growing national recognition of 
this alarming situation is perhaps the 
reason that eugencics has been less 
laughed at in England than elsewhere. 



89 



HUMAN LIFE 



THE BIOLOGIST AND THE PUBLIC 

Now these matters of war and juvenile 
delinquency and racial well-being which 
I have referred to are all important 
problems in human life and to all of them 
the biologist can admittedly make some 
enlightening contribution. They are but 
three examples of the many problems of 
human life with obvious and fundamen- 
tal biological aspects. But how little has 
the world, although intensely interested 
in these problems and anxiously trying 
to solve them, taken any advantage of 
the special knowledge offered by the 
biologist in connection with them. And 
this in spite of the fact that it has been 
in recent years quite the fashion to invite 
the biologist to talk about such problems 
and even to listen to him with a tolerant 
interest. But why the fashion of listening 
to his advice and at the same time the 
fashion of not acting on it? Well, it is not 
90 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

all the fault of the public: it is partly the 
fault of the biologist. 

In the first place, the biologist too usu- 
ally finds much difficulty in making him- 
self understood by the public. He seems 
unable to escape from the use of a ter- 
minology that is included only in the 
larger dictionaries and these dictionaries 
are at home while the public is in the 
lecture hall. Hence the people who listen 
to him go away confused and incapable 
of doing what the biologist thinks he 
has suggested to them to do. There are 
hundreds of interesting and pertinent facts 
of biology that are today waiting intel- 
ligible telling in order to be made use of! 

In the second place the biologist appar- 
ently has difficulty in estimating the 
varying degrees of practicalness of his 
knowledge. His facts and his recom- 
mendations run all the gamut from 
tangible practicability to most academic 
impracticability. Take the very examples 
I have used this evening! If the biologist 
has nothing more to contribute to the 
91 



HUMAN LIFE 

discussion of the tremendously important 
and pressing problem of war than the 
assurance that human evolution will carry 
us beyond war in another geologic epoch 
or two, he may be listened to with tolerant 
interest but he will start nothing to help 
put an end to war. Of .course I think that 
he really has more to offer. I have even 
tried to indicate what it is that he can 
suggest, namely, to fight the false notion 
that human evolution must be left to 
natural selection, and that war produces 
natural selection as a matter of fact war 
produces artificial selection more than 
natural selection and a bad or reversed 
artificial selection at that. He can also 
encourage the right notion that biological 
inheritance, especially where already ves- 
tigial, can be largely offset by social 
inheritance. 

In fact, it is social evolution, not bio- 
logical evolution, that we must chiefly 
look to for future human progress. Most 
anthropologists agree that the major 
difference between present man and prim- 
92 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

itive man not man of the Ice Age but 
primitive man of late prehistoric and 
historic times lies in the possession by 
present man of methods and technic 
based on scientific knowledge not pos- 
sessed by primitive man. And modern 
man has gained over primitive man with 
ever increased acceleration. His move- 
ment of advance has been like that of a 
snowball rolling faster as it gets bigger. 
Many biologists believe that man is 
already so specialized an end product of 
his evolutionary line, that as regards 
physical change and actual mental ca- 
pacity he has reached the standing-still 
stage. Certainly man today as individual 
is not to be regarded as superior to man 
of early historic times, of the times of 
Greek greatness or probably even of the 
times of early Egypt and Asia-Minor. 

In connection with the matter of 
juvenile delinquency and racial well- 
being the biologist's contribution of facts 
and suggestions are of tangible prac- 
ticability. The biologist says that the 
93 



HUMAN LIFE 

normal man who married the feeble- 
minded woman and started a line of 
descendants of whom four out of five were 
socially incompetent and hence burdens 
and dangers to society, and then married 
a normal woman and started another 
line of descendants all socially competent, 
should have been prevented from making 
the first mating. Don't call this eugenics ; 
call it an application of scientific knowl- 
edge and common sense. Think of it as 
just as important and just as possible as 
the enforced isolation of a victim of in- 
fectious disease, or of homicidal mania. 
But not all the problems of human life 
in the discussion of which the biologist 
ventures to take part exhibit so clearly 
as the examples thus far referred to, their 
biological aspects. The approach of the 
biologist to these other problems, even 
his right to approach them, becomes 
more debatable but for that very rea- 
son, perhaps, more interesting. Can the 
biologist with his methods of analysis 
and his knowledge of other kinds of life 
94 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

than human life, make any, even least, 
contribution to that which most of us 
demand first from existence, namely, 
personal happiness? Can he show us 
wiser ways of living? He can unques- 
tionably show us safer ways; he can help 
guide us in our constant great gamble of 
betting our lives on what we know. And 
presumably that alone is quite worth our 
calling on him to give us the benefit of 
his special knowledge, and his reasoned 
recommendations. But merely being 
safer amid danger, merely continuing to 
live and living longer, is not what many, 
very many of us, are chiefly concerned 
with. We want continuing to live to 
mean something continually larger. We 
yearn for encouragement of our hopes, for 
inspiration to struggle on to achieve what 
we can hardly define but clearly feel intent 
on. Has the biologist anything helpful to 
suggest about this? Or will listening to 
him mean more pessimism, hopelessness, 
fatalism? If so perhaps we would prefer 
to be blindly hopeful, ignorantly happy. 
95 



HUMAN LIFE 



m 

THE BIOLOGIST AND EVERYDAY 
LIFE 

IN our preceding discussions we became 
acquainted with certain facts which con- 
tribute in some degree to help solve the 
problem of human origin and the place in 
Nature of humankind. And we noted 
certain other facts which help to reveal 
the kind and extent of the influence on 
human behavior of some of those biolog- 
ical factors whose influence on the life of 
other animals is so obvious to the student 
of general biology. 

In recognizing these facts we have at 
the same time recognized the necessity of 
taking account, in any candid study of 
human life, of the special significance of 
these facts, which is, simply, that the 
human species, however different it may 
seem or actually be from other forms of 
life, is not so different as to be something 
96 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

outside of Nature, unrelated to other 
kinds of creatures, and hence to be 
studied quite apart from other forms of 
life. Indeed, in face of the many facts 
that have been revealed concerning man's 
relation to other extinct and living crea- 
tures and concerning the degree of control 
exercised over his body and behavior by 
natural law, it is most puzzling to me to 
note to what an extent there still exists, 
among many persons of sufficient educa- 
tion to have had these facts brought to 
their attention, a disregard of the neces- 
sary significance of these facts. I can 
understand, although I do not share, a 
certain feeling of repugnance to accepting 
the situation forced on us by scientific 
fact and logical induction. I can sym- 
pathize with, although not accept, the 
position of those who persist in wishing 
and trying to look on themselves and 
humankind in general as of a different 
clay endowed with a different breath and 
existing in a different sphere from the 
rest of life. I can feel the egocentric 
97 



HUMAN LIFE 

urge that leads to this position perhaps 
as strongly as those who take it, but I 
cannot surrender to it as easily. Scien- 
tific observation and cool reason prevent. 
How can one accept eagerly and grate- 
fully that knowledge about our bodily 
make-up and functioning which the biol- 
ogist gives us, and, on the basis of it, 
proceed to modify our behavior so as to 
protect ourselves from accident and dis- 
ease, and help ourselves in the attempt 
to adapt ourselves to the actual condi- 
tions of the world we live in, and yet 
reject other no less well demonstrated 
facts of the same general category brought 
to us by the same biologist, but the ac- 
ceptance of which involves a recognition 
on our part of our true place in Nature. 
I am inclined to find an explanation for 
this popular inconsistency in two or three 
different causes. For one thing some 
biologists have gone ahead of the actual 
facts with their justifiable significance 
and have presented the world with hy- 
potheses instead of demonstrations and 
98 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

have insisted on an acceptance of un- 
justifiable significance. I have already 
called attention to the too bold assump- 
tions of the extreme disciples of the 
mechanistic school of life. For another 
thing one can never get away from letting 
one's own observations, with all their 
limitations both as to scope and accuracy, 
play a too large part in determining one's 
judgments about any matter however 
technical, and however demanding, for 
correct understanding, of a certain special 
training and equipment on the part of 
the observer. This is one of the reasons 
why the professors of political economy 
and sociology have such a hard row to 
hoe. Everyone is his own economist and 
sociologist, because the subjects are per- 
force under everyone's observation, al- 
though this observation may really be 
very limited and usually is of a most 
untrained and unmethodical kind. Pro- 
fessors of astronomy on the other hand 
are accepted unhesitatingly as authorities; 
so few of us have telescopes. 



HUMAN LIFE 

Now the biologists have a position 
between these extremes. When they 
talk about microbes and Dinosaurs their 
statements are accepted at face value. 
But when they talk about human beings, 
which the biologist can study quite as 
carefully as he can other kinds of beings, 
there are reservations. When the biol- 
ogists' talk about human beings is limited 
to statements about lungs and liver, 
skeleton and ductless glands, it is not 
questioned. But when their talk is about 
the behavior of human beings, about 
their psychology, their heredity, their 
responses to environment and education, 
and their position in Nature, then their 
talk is tested by the miscellaneous per- 
sonal observations and prejudices and 
desires and hopes and beliefs of each 
individual, and it is accepted or not as it 
confirms or contradicts each one's notions 
derived from these things. We all, or 
most of us, think we know human beings 
as well as the biologist does. Most 
assuredly the biologist does not know all 
100 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

that is to be known about human beings, 
and about that which he does not know 
we must certainly be permitted to accept 
our own guess as likely to be as good as 
his. But we are too likely to think our 
own guess even better than his. 

This attitude comes largely, I think, 
from a feeling, after hearing the biologist 
talk about human life, that his considera- 
tion of this life is too academic, too 
technical, too detached from most of 
those things that make up our immediate 
interests and fill our present moments. 
As important as war may be, and juvenile 
delinquency and eugenics and the rela- 
tions of social inheritance to biological 
inheritance, and as interesting as may 
be the problems of human origin and the 
relation of the human species to other 
animal kinds, all of which are samples, 
as I have indicated in our earlier dis- 
cussions, of the things the biologist- 
student of human life especially talks 
about, these are not the matters of 
human life that occupy most of the atten- 
101 



HUMAN LIFE 

tion of most human beings most of the 
days. The matters that do so occupy 
our principal attention are our work and 
recreation, our clothes and food, our 
household affairs, our health and our 
looks, our income, expenditures and sav- 
ings, the growing up of our children and 
the growing old of ourselves, our family 
and social relations, our personal con- 
tacts with people and our opinions of 
them. We think and talk about books 
and music and pictures, about railways 
and bridges and motor cars, about scenery 
and climate and hotels, about politics 
and diplomacy and governments. And 
all the time we give a fascinated attention 
to the particular human beings con- 
nected with these things, especially the 
ones we personally know or see. We note 
and discuss their particular idiosyncrasies, 
their likenesses and differences; we com- 
pare them with each other and with 
ourselves. We are concerned, constantly 
and immensely, with individuals. 
It is right here, I believe, that we have a 
102 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

clue to the explanation of the gulf be- 
tween the biologist-student of human life 
and the everyday observer of human 
life. One deals primarily with the species ; 
the other with individuals. One gives 
his attention to humankind, the other 
to particular human creatures. If we 
knew other kinds of animals as in- 
dividuals and we do occasionally, as 
when we have a particular horse or dog 
or cat or canary for companion, or scrape 
literary acquaintance with Lobo the 
Wolf, or Brer Rabbit, or as when the 
farmer or his daughter goes out morning 
and evening with the milking stool, or 
the pigeon or chicken fancier feeds his 
pets ; I have even come to know individual 
bees in my glass-sided observation hives 
if we knew other animals as individuals, 
I say, we should have another point of 
view regarding them. As it is we mostly 
do not know other animals as individuals; 
we know them as the biologist does, as 
species. But as species they do not 
interest many of us very much; although 
103 



HUMAN LIFE 

it is exactly as such that they do interest 
the biologist. And it is primarily as 
species that the biologist is interested in 
humankind that is, when he observes 
humankind as biologist and not as just 
one of the rest of us. When one knows 
animals only as species the interest there- 
fore is chiefly biological; when one knows 
animals as individuals they possess a new 
and special interest. It is this special 
interest that absorbs most of our atten- 
tion to human kind, which we do know 
primarily and particularly as individuals. 
That is what really holds apart, I think, 
the biologist and the rest of us when the 
study of man is in question. That is 
why the biologist's information to us 
about man seems academic and not 
pertinent: it leaves us cold. And why 
the daily newspaper's information about 
men fascinates and thrills us. And yet 
and yet the biologist's information, as 
far as he can confidently go with it, is of 
huge importance to us as individuals. 
Taken into account and acted on, it can 
104 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

make wiser, less wasteful, more capable, 
happier, individuals of us. It can help 
put us into better physical and mental 
harmony with the world we simply have 
to live in. It is not that it merely makes 
life safer and longer, but saner and larger. 
And it need not rob us of the hopes and 
beliefs that many of us cherish. It may 
do nothing to encourage them, but it 
cannot, certainly at present, make us give 
them up. And I do not think it ever will. 



105 



HUMAN LIFE 



THE BIOLOGIST AND DEATH 

I HAVE had during the very writing 
of this paper the distressing experience 
of being brought, suddenly and dramat- 
ically, to face that problem of human life, 
that to most of us is the greatest of 
all its problems, I mean the problem of 
death. One evening, on a train from 
Chicago to Washington, returning with a 
companion from a week's association with 
hundreds of other scientific men, I spent 
the hours between dinner and bedtime 
discussing with my companion the possi- 
bilities of science in helping us to under- 
stand Nature and Life. He was a man 
who had given thirty years, with all the 
advantage of great ability and highly- 
perfected training, to scientific study. 
He was withal a most attractive and 
lovable personality. We parted at the 
evening's end with smiles of friendship 
and mutual encouragement to push on 
106 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

with the task that we had in common. 
In the morning I found him dead in his 
berth. 

What does the biologist have to tell us 
of death? Well, first, true to his profes- 
sional interest, he tells us of the facts and 
the significance of the death of species. 
He points to the hosts of extinct kinds of 
animals, dead species, revealed by the 
fossils in the rocks. He shows us how this 
death of successive species reveals and 
is itself a part of organic evolution, the 
greatest fact, and its revelation the great- 
est glory, in biological science. Death 
of species is at once the revelation and 
the proof of the struggle for existence 
with the consequent survival of the fit. 
Dead species have been the stepping 
stones to new species; their history is the 
history of organic evolution. Species are 
unfit, or become unfit, for various rea- 
sons; among them, the reason of over- 
specialization. This is rather surprising, 
for all organic evolution is a movement 
from generalization toward specializa- 
107 



HUMAN LIFE 

tion, and yet in the very acquirement of 
this specialization are sown the seeds of 
species death. What organisms gain in 
specialization they lose in plasticity. 
They become so adapted that they lose 
adaptability. Progress in one direction 
involves, as someone has said, the closing 
of the gates in countless other directions; 
progression thus means a succession of 
lost opportunities. The Irish stag spe- 
cializing in antlers was brought by too 
large antlers to species death. The great 
Dinosaurs, lords of their epoch, extin- 
guished themselves by too much much- 
ness. There are even analogies of these 
biologic happenings in human history. 
And there are even biologists who see the 
triumphantly super-specialized species, 
man, in actual danger of species death 
from too much specialization. 

But one of the major lines of human 
specialization is what might be called a 
specialization in the direction of safety 
from over-specialization; it is a specializa- 
tion in general adaptability, not in par- 
108 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

ticular adaptation. Man has become 
able to follow varying natural conditions. 
I have recently read a fascinating paper 
on "Forests and Human Progress." In 
it the author, Dr. Zon, gives a seizing 
picture of human civilization, first in a 
stage of being dominated by forests, 
then in the stage of successful struggle 
with forests, and finally in the present 
stage of domination of forests. Some- 
what similar stories could be told of man 
and oceans, man and mountains, man 
and deserts, man and climate. Man's 
narrow biologic specialization think of 
the narrow limits of temperature, oxygen, 
food and other conditions in relation 
to his mere maintenance of life is offset 
by his wide social inheritance and his 
educability. This gives him power to 
withstand and dominate antagonistic Na- 
ture: even power to add the forces of 
Nature to his own forces. He fights 
against natural selection; he substitutes a 
purposeful artificial selection for it. His 
possession of consciousness, reason and 
109 



HUMAN LIFE 

volition, by which he makes effective a 
scientific method or technic of success- 
ful struggle with nature, seems to insure 
him against species death, at any rate in 
any geologically near future. Cataclys- 
mic world change would wipe him out 
easily, so specific is his biological adapta- 
tion to present conditions; but slow 
change, and that seems the geologic rule, 
finds him well protected, so developed 
is his power of conscious adaptability 
and his partial control of the conditions of 
life. "What a plastic little creature man 
is!" said Emerson. "So shifty, so adap- 
tive! His body a chest of tools and he 
making himself comfortable in every 
climate, in every condition!" 

But it is not human species death but 
human individual death that most of us 
look on as the problem of death. It is 
here, as always, in individuals, including 
our individual selves, not in species, that 
most of us are principally interested. 
And when we ask the biologist about 
what he can tell us of death we are not 
110 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

asking him about species death but 
individual death; the death of our rela- 
tives and friends, the death of my com- 
panion just as he had reached his greatest 
usefulness for science, for humanity, his 
greatest power for achievement and, 
because of it, his greatest joy in living and 
our greatest loss in his passing. What has 
the biologist to say about this kind of 
death? 

Truly, very little. He can explain or 
describe death, as it affects the body, in 
more precise terms than we commonly 
use; he can describe the particular, 
irreversible physical and chemical changes 
that characterize or are physical death 
in the exact terminology of science and 
indicate the immediate specific causes 
that set up these changes, but this is very 
far from satisfying us. To explain to us 
that the human body is a machine which 
differs from other machines with which 
it may be compared in that when once 
stopped it cannot be set going again, is 
not in the least to solve for most of us the 
111 



HUMAN LIFE 

great problem. Is death really just what 
it seems and what the biologist describes 
it to be, or is it what so many would like 
it to be, hope it is, and even firmly believe 
it is? Can the human individual have an 
ethereal spirit existence apart from, or 
after, his bodily machine existence? Is 
man immortal? That is what we insist 
on asking the biologist who assumes a 
knowledge beyond that of most of us 
concerning human life. 

The biologist, unless he be a scientific 
bigot, confesses at once the limitations of 
his knowledge. He does not claim that 
his description of individual death neces- 
sarily tells the whole story. But he claims 
that it tells it as far as the kind of evi- 
dence which he can accept as telling him 
things he can rely on now permits. His 
attention has been called to a great and 
heterogeneous array of alleged evidence 
or proof of spirit existence. We confront 
him by the great intellectual difficulty 
that most of us have in accepting what 
seems the awful waste of Nature and of 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

man himself in having lifted humankind, 
both as species and individual, to such a 
peak of evolutionary development, if 
death ends it all. Just because a single 
part in the complex material machine, 
or association of engines, that was my 
friend's body, suddenly breaks down, is 
that the end of his story? One evening 
all that nature and man had done for 
him were available for our good and his 
happiness. The next morning, because a 
trivial mechanical disharmony prevailed 
during the night over what had been 
for fifty years mechanical harmony, he is 
nothing more to us or himself. This 
seems preposterous, incredible. Must we 
accept it, biologist? 

Sadly he answers, I can give you no 
comfort. That same waste of Nature's 
efforts if it really is waste is apparent 
all through the realm of life. This fish 
produces a million eggs when only a few 
will successfully develop into new indi- 
viduals. How many thousand to one are 
the odds against the successful achieve- 
113 



HUMAN LIFE 

ment of the extraordinarily complicated 
life history of one of those internal 
parasitic worms which demand successive 
entrance into the bodies of two or more 
hosts to complete its development? This 
unconscious waste of Nature is no less 
preposterous, incredible to me, he says, 
than that every now and then, consciously 
flying in the face of what seems to be all 
self-interest, all enjoyment of life, all 
reason, millions of men swarm out of 
their homes, to use all their energy, 
all their native cunning, all their hard-won 
scientific knowledge, to kill each other, 
to bring intense suffering to their wives 
and children, to destroy their accumu- 
lated material possessions, to burn the 
created glories of their artist geniuses, to 
work, in a word, all the waste and misery 
that are the inevitable accompaniments 
of war. Is this less incredible, he asks, 
than that nature should tolerate the ex- 
tinguishing after a period of functioning 
of the complex of elaborately built up 
machines which is the human body? 
114 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

And he adds that the same extinguishing 
comes to every other animal machine, to 
all other living bodies. Do you ask for 
something to continue after death of the 
pet dog, the favorite riding horse, the 
bird you shoot as game, or the insect you 
crush under you feet? I find no proof, 
scientific proof, he says, that death is not 
the end of these creatures. And you do 
not ask me to believe otherwise because 
of some desire or belief on your part that 
death is not their end. Well, no more do I 
find any proof of the kind I am familiar 
with and content to accept, that death is 
not the end of man. I do not say that 
death is the end; that I have scientific 
proof that it really is the end, but I have 
no proof, yet, that it is not the end. 
The strong desire and hope and that 
next conscious state, belief, which you 
suggest to me as proof to you that death 
does not end all, are not the kind of proof 
on the basis of which I ask you to accept 
what I do really feel able to tell you as 
facts about human life, facts many of 
115 



HUMAN LIFE 

which you are inclined to accept on my 
word. 

Nor have I been able to find proof, the 
kind of proof that proves things to me, 
of immortality by attending spiritist 
seances or in reading the volumes of the 
Society for Psychical Research or the 
many other books that recite the expe- 
riences of alleged participators in or ob- 
servers of things of after death. I should, 
indeed, truly be appalled by death, the 
biologist says, and it would have a ter- 
ror for me greater than it has even as a 
possible complete extinguisher of my 
personality, if it meant that it was the 
beginning for me of a perpetual personal 
spirit existence in which my thoughts 
and conversations were to be of the kind 
exampled by those recorded in the Psychi- 
cal Research and spiritist books. I do 
not wish to spend a spirit existence re- 
sponding to calls from earth to describe 
the quality of the cigars that I am per- 
mitted to enjoy in my eternal life beyond. 
But in the same breath the biologist says, 
116 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

if he is not a bigoted biologist, that he has 
no right to say and will not say that there 
cannot be a human spirit life, nor a human 
immortality, despite the fact that he has 
seen no spirits and that the only immortal- 
ity he has been able to discover among liv- 
ing creatures is that of those one-celled ani- 
mals and plants which, barring accident, 
reach in a few hours or days after birth a 
maturity, not followed by natural death, 
but by a division of the whole body into 
two parts each of which is an independ- 
ent new individual, requiring but another 
few hours or days to grow and develop and 
reach maturity, and to divide, in turn, 
into two more continuing individuals. 
Even this immortality seems to require 
for its full realization certain occasional 
special stimulating physical or chemical 
conditions, for after a few hundred suc- 
ceeding generations of this self -perpetua- 
tion the series tends to run out. Natural 
death tends to appear. So that perhaps 
after all this, at first sight, tangible, observ- 
able material immortality is only delusion. 
117 



HUMAN LIFE 



THE BIOLOGIST AND SOUL 

BUT, I say again, the biologist who is 
not a bigot cannot authoritatively and 
hence will not try to affirm that there 
cannot be human immortality. He sim- 
ply remains agnostic. He does not know. 

Then there is the cognate matter of 
soul in the living body. The biologist 
sometimes has a difficult time trying to 
understand what other people understand 
by soul. If sweetness of disposition or 
amiability of character is a symptom of 
soul, as he is told by some, then he finds 
soul in many animals. I had two taran- 
tulas once in my laboratory, one of which 
was a morose, ugly-tempered brute who, 
whenever I approached him with playful 
finger, became angry and, rearing on his 
hinder two pairs of legs and unfolding his 
great poison fangs, made ready to lunge 
and strike whenever his malicious intel- 
ligence assured him that he could reach 
118 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

and wound me. But the other tarantula, 
of the same kind and found in the same 
field, would let me fondle him and would 
walk in friendly fashion up my bare arm 
without ever a thought of hurting me. 
He was a sweetly dispositioned tarantula. 
You see I have used terms in describ- 
ing the behavior and character of these 
spiders that we generally reserve for ac- 
counts of human behavior and charac- 
ter. And if you say that I should not 
attribute character or disposition to them 
but should limit myself to describing their 
manner of behavior, because we do not 
know that their behavior was controlled 
by their disposition chemical or physical 
stimuli may have controlled it then I 
reply that I can quite as easily and much 
more confidently describe the similarly 
contrasting behavior of two human in- 
dividuals in terms that we usually limit 
ourselves to in describing animal be- 
havior. The difference is, we have had 
so much experience with human individ- 
uals, that is, have made so many ob- 
119 



HUMAN LIFE 

servations and so many experiments on 
them, that in our search for the springs 
of this behavior we have become accus- 
tomed to feel justified in saying that such 
and such behavior indicates such and 
such kind of disposition, a large or small 
possession of kindliness, or as some might 
interpret it, soul. If we knew tarantulas 
better we might be able to use the same 
generalization and discriminate among 
them as fairly. 

Mother love reveals the human soul, 
says one; but mother love is a common- 
place among the higher animals and some 
of the less high. Love and sacrifice of 
self for family and community prove 
soul: well, the worker bee works till it 
falls dead on the threshold of the hive 
with honey sac or pollen baskets filled 
with food which it is bringing home to 
feed the babies and queen and drones of 
the hive. Faith in an all-wise and all- 
kind God proves the soul in us. The 
primitive Africans have no less faith 
although their God is made of wood or 
120 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

mud. John Muir's dog, Stickeen, seems 
to have had no less faith in his master 
at whose insistence he leaped the danger- 
ous glacier crevasse that seemed too wide. 
Had Stickeen a soul? The young robins 
that make their first flutterings from the 
nest perhaps have faith in the parent 
birds' assurances. Are they soulful? 

But other people mean other things 
by soul : they mean the creative imagina- 
tion, the capacity for a self-expression of 
the wonderful things in them. Man's 
mind is so wonderful, as evidenced by 
his discoveries, his inventions, his poetry 
and music and painting, that you say 
there simply must be more than brain- 
cells and nerve fibrils as basis for them; 
there must be soul in him. But a simple 
physical injury or disharmony in these 
material body tissues means a prompt 
end to all these wonders. A boy com- 
panion of mine was called, because of 
what he could do in music, a genius. 
He fell one day from a gate post and 
struck his head against a stone. In 



HUMAN LIFE 

a few weeks he was as strong a boy as he 
had been before but he was no longer a 
genius. There was no longer any soul in 
his music. Was it his soul that struck 
against the stone? In that great gray 
building, the hospital called Salpetriere, 
in Paris, there are a thousand human 
beings whose brains and nervous systems 
do not work in orderly fashion; they are 
not hopelessly insane: they are tempora- 
rily, some perhaps permanently, mentally 
unbalanced, hysterical. For the time 
being they show little sign of soul; but 
when they are cured they will have soul 
again. Soul seems to mean, or at least 
to require, continuing mental balance. 

The brain is a wonderful instrument 
in some human beings: in others, whole 
communities or tribes of others, it now 
enables its possessors to count no more 
than five. Human reason does wonders: 
so does the instinct of the social wasps and 
the fungus -farming ants. The Brooklyn 
Bridge is a triumph of engineering: so is 
the orb-web of the garden spider. I do 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

not mean that there is no difference 
between the brain of man, on which seems 
to depend a part at least of his soul, 
and the cephalic ganglion of the ant. 
But may not this difference be one of 
mass and histologic differentiation and 
organizations, rather than of fundamen- 
tal kind or quality, that is, may it 
not be quantitative rather than qualita- 
tive? For all practical purposes, as I 
said in the first paragraphs of my first 
paper, this difference may be such as to 
make two very different sorts of crea- 
tures out of men and ants but is one to be 
assumed to be fundamentally foreign to 
the other? So fundamentally foreign that 
one means soul and immortality and the 
other only carnality and clay? Perhaps 
it is: I do not know. 

Much that means soul and human 
attributes assumed to be peculiarly and 
fundamentally derived from some source 
other than one common to other forms of 
life, has been plausibly shown by biol- 
ogists and sociologists to be a highly 
123 



HUMAN LIFE 

developed derivative of more animal- 
like attributes. Love may be a beautiful 
outgrowth from the animal necessities 
of reproduction and protection; charity 
from the requirements of an advantageous 
development and exercise of altruism in 
the case of an animal species which has 
adopted the mutual aid principle in 
evolution rather than the mutual fight 
principle; hope and belief may be the 
by-products of a brain development that 
has outrun biological utility even as the 
Irish stag's antlers outran advantage 
in size. But I need not dwell on these 
iconoclastic ingenuities of the cynical 
materialist. They are familiar to you and 
have already been accepted or rejected 
by you; by some of you on a basis of 
reason, by others on a basis of emotion. 
Emotion itself is a great problem. 
There are fundamental emotions or con- 
scious states such as fear and hunger and 
sex interest which are plainly closely 
related to the brute part of our life, and 
other less fundamental or derived emo- 
124 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

tions, such as desire, hope and confidence 
leading to belief, and doubt and de- 
pression, leading to despondency, which 
are apparently a product of our more 
intellectual life. But that is to say that 
they differ from the fundamental emo- 
tions common to other animals as well 
as ourselves only because of our more 
elaborate and superior nervous develop- 
ment. These derived emotions are among 
the particularly distinguishing attributes 
of human life as compared with animal 
life and play a great part in all of our 
everyday living. We see more of them, 
are impressed more by them and think 
more about them, under ordinary cir- 
cumstances, than we do of the more 
fundamental emotions, but how quickly 
and powerfully the fundamental emotions 
dominate us under circumstances which 
strip off for the moment our veneer of 
social inheritance and so-called peculiarly 
human qualities. The war revealed this 
vividly, although it also revealed how 
some individuals had arrived at a stage 
125 



HUMAN LIFE 

in human evolution which enabled them 
to dominate their brute-inheritance in a 
most wonderful and encouraging way. 

An authorized lecturer representing a 
certain organization with many adherents 
stated in an address in Washington the 
other evening that the world is a mental 
phenomenon and hence that all the 
things we know in it are controllable by 
mind, or indeed are simply manifestations 
of mind. That rather seems to put in the 
hands of each person possessing mentality 
the power to do things to or with this old 
world and the conditions of life on it 
much as he wills to do them. 

I must confess that the biologist sees 
the world differently. He finds it com- 
posed of a lot of things, and sees going on, 
in and about it, a lot of things which 
are hard to reduce to mental phenomena 
and hard to make amenable to his desires 
and control. He realizes, of course, that 
without the sense organs and brain no 
one would have much awareness of the 
world; that, indeed, one might think it 
126 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

non-existent. Color is color to us and 
sound sound only after a mental percep- 
tion. But the different ether waves which 
are perceived by us as color and the 
atmospheric waves as sound might per- 
fectly imaginably go on coursing through 
the ether and atmosphere although no 
human or animal sense-organs and brains 
perceived them. In fact the physicist 
is quite sure they would. If a photo- 
graphic plate got in the way of the light 
waves and a phonographic plate in the 
way of the sound waves the existence of 
these waves would be mechanically reg- 
istered. 

In Stanford University a number of 
years ago I used to walk down an avenue 
lined with trees I believe they were 
trees to the beautiful quadrangle of 
buildings, with a companion, now a 
distinguished professor of philosophy in 
an important Eastern university, who 
proved during our walk each morning 
by what was to me a verbally irrefutable 
logical argument that there were no trees 



HUMAN LIFE 

along our way and no quadrangle before 
us. However, when after successfully 
avoiding the tree-trunks, we reached the 
quadrangle we entered it quite naturally 
and unsurprised, and went on under its 
arcades to take up our duties in our 
respective class rooms in it. We, or 
rather the professor of philosophy, had 
simply had a pleasant after-breakfast 
exercise in mental gymnastics. We had 
done our other gymnastics before break- 
fast. 

The biologist is willing to bet his life 
that much of the world really exists in a 
material sense. If the philosopher and 
I were standing on a railway track with a 
locomotive engine tearing towards us at 
fifty miles an hour he might prove to 
me, if there was time, by his interesting 
play of words and logic, that nothing 
was there and hence nothing was going 
to happen if our non-existent bodies 
continued to stand still on the non- 
existent railway. But I would win my 
bet that something very distressing would 
128 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

happen unless we stepped off the track, 
and that pretty quickly. 

The biologist is a homely and practical- 
minded person who is little given to over- 
refined logic and debate but much given 
to observation and experiment. He be- 
lieves that his eyes and ears and brain 
help him to the saving and enjoyment of 
life by enabling him to know and adapt 
his behavior to the world he lives in. 
The man who makes the world all mental 
may have reached a higher kind of 
Weltanschauung than the biologist, but 
the biologist, as far as I know him, 
is not going yet, for the sake of ascend- 
ing to this higher plane, to give up 
remembering what happened to the man 
who doesn't step off the track, nor will 
he give up keeping his leg muscles in trim 
for a quick jump. His low and materi- 
alistic Weltanschauung is perhaps suffi- 
ciently indicated by his using as argument 
his readiness to bet his life and his enjoy- 
ment of life on what he thinks he knows 
about the reality of matter and energy. 



HUMAN LIFE 

But he knows, if he is a wise and honest 
biologist, what I have so often repeated, 
namely, that he doesn't know it all. 
When the future or destiny of the human 
individual are the subject of inquiry the 
biologist has little more to say than I 
have already indicated. He remembers 
his laboratory and tells what he has 
observed in it. Then he remembers his 
wife and child and himself, and his heart, 
not the heart of his laboratory experi- 
ments, fills with such thrilling emotions 
and his brain conjures up such pictures of 
possibilities for himself and his family 
and for all humankind that he wonders if 
he is really the same being that observes 
things in a laboratory or museum. His 
laboratory tells him what a precarious and 
fragile thing life is, how material and 
condition-ruled and circumscribed a liv- 
ing creature is. But his wife and child 
and his own consciousness tell him how 
much more, how immeasurably more, 
there is in life than he learns in his 
laboratory. It is this extra-laboratory 
130 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

observation and realization of the possi- 
bilities and actualities of human life that 
make it, even to the biologist, the vivid, 
many-colored, suggestive, thrilling thing 
it is, the thing so full of occasionally 
realized great moments and of glimpses 
of infinitely great possibilities that some- 
times it seems all mystery, all something 
more than of this world, and hence all 
something quite hopeless to study by the 
methods of his science, or even quite 
hopeless profitably even to wonder about. 
Why not take it and make the most of it? 
And then comes the insistent question: 
Ah, how make the most of it? And he 
becomes again the patient struggling 
student of biology, that is the laws or 
conditions of life. 



131 



HUMAN LIFE 



THE BIOLOGIST AND THE FUTURE 

THE chief goal of science is not merely 
to describe the phenomena of matter and 
life; it is to determine by long and close 
observation and ingenious and repeated 
experiment the order or regularity of 
Nature, and hence to arrive at the position 
of being able to say what will happen 
under given conditions, in other words, to 
prophesy. The goal of the biologist 
however unattainable or most limitedly 
attainable arrival at it may now seem to 
be is to be able to speak with confidence 
of the future behavior or fate of living 
things; of living things as individuals and 
as groups and kinds. The biologist 
really aims at being able sometimes to 
speak confidently about the future and 
destiny of humankind. It is well to hitch 
one's wagon to the stars. A Kansas poet 
once exclaimed: "I'll wear Aldebaran as 
a bosom-pin." 

132 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

If the biologist finds himself now, as we 
have already pointed out that he does, 
quite unable to say much worth listening 
to about the future of human beings after 
death, he is at least ready to venture some 
suggestions about the future of the human 
species in its material relations to the 
world and world conditions it lives in, 
and about the possibilities or probabilities 
of its further development or evolution. 

This evolution is a fundamental ele- 
ment in life. Primarily it simply means 
change, but history, geologic and bio- 
logic history, has shown that this change 
has been progressive, it is change forward 
and upward. What causes it we do not 
know, despite our glimpse of some of 
its factors; what it really is we do not 
know, despite our sight of its results. 
"Some call it Evolution, and others call 
it God," sings William Carruth. But it 
is real. Human life today is what it is 
because of it; human life will be tomor- 
row what it will be, because of it. Is the 
biologist in position to hazard prophecy as 
133 



HUMAN LIFE 

to the future course of human evolu- 
tion? 

As Conklin has pointed out, progressive 
evolution of special lines of animals and 
plants has limits fixed by its very nature. 
Evolutionary progress of animal bodies 
means specialization of the structure and 
functions of these bodies. Specialization, 
as we have indicated earlier in this dis- 
cussion, means closer adaptation to a 
certain set of conditions of life but also 
means surrender of general adaptability. 
If an animal has given up legs for the 
sake of having flippers or wings or hands, 
it has acquired a more specific use of its 
limbs at the expense of a more general use 
of them. Now man has gone a long, long 
way in the progressive evolution of his 
body and its functions. But it is appar- 
ently true, as Conklin has said, that for 
ten thousand years there has been no 
notable progress in this evolution. If 
evolution is carrying man forward 
and we do not doubt it it is doing it in a 
different way. This way seems to be the 
134 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

way of social evolution, based on man's 
social inheritance and the biologic factor 
of mutual aid. If so, we have not to look 
forward to future man as a physically 
different man unless indeed he gives up 
a little more of that original physical 
equipment which enabled him to live 
successfully in Glacial Time as "animal 
among animals" but we have to see man 
of the future as the possessor of an ever 
more elaborate and higher development 
of social inheritance, and more and more 
capable, by virtue of this social inherit- 
ance, of an inhibition of the vestigial brute 
carry-overs in his biological inheritance. 
That means, in ultimate analysis, that 
future man can be consciously deter- 
mined by man today, that human evolu- 
tion has been turned over to human- 
kind itself to direct. 

What an opportunity, but at the same 
time what a responsibility! Poor star- 
fishes and clams, poor ants and bees, and 
all the other little animal brothers to man 
whose fate and future are all in the laps 
135 



HUMAN LIFE 

\ 
of the gods of Nature. How they must 

envy if they can envy that fortunate 
big brother man who can make his future 
life what he will, who is his own chief 
factor in his own evolution. Some com- 
munism-mad men sometimes hold up 
before us the perfect, machine-turned, 
communal life of ants and bees as a model 
for humankind to copy. Do they realize 
what an ant or a bee is born to? An 
individual life entirely scheduled; a per- 
sonal knowledge as large at birth as it 
ever will be; a personal fate that can all 
be told by the first seeress applied to, and 
a species fate all in the hands of a coldly 
impersonal and pitiless Nature. I some- 
times feel sorry for the bees. If they 
have sunshine and flowers they have also 
the dark and crowded hive. And within 
and without, their every hour is sched- 
uled, their every activity predetermined. 
I have even felt so exercised about the 
bees that I have written a little book 
about them in which I have imagined a 
bee heroine called Nuova who is a new 
136 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

bee born into the hive who revolts 
against the monotony and fatalism and 
hopelessness of usual bee life. Like other 
books with heroines it has a happy end- 
ing, but it wouldn't if it were a scientific 
text-book. 

Compared with the bees and all the 
other animal kinds whose fate as species 
depends on external circumstances and 
inexorable natural law and whose evolu- 
tionary progress is dependent on occa- 
sional fortuitous germinal variations pro- 
ducing small somatic changes of selective 
advantage, what an opportunity man has 
to determine, within limits, the course and 
even the rapidity of his own evolution. 
But also what a responsibility! 

Here is where the biologist becomes the 
preacher and exhorter. Here is where 
biology and the appeal to reason, where 
technical knowledge and common sense, 
where science and religion join. The 
soundest of science leads us to the con- 
clusion that man, by virtue of the pos- 
session of a social inheritance, as con- 
137 



HUMAN LIFE 

trusted with the biological inheritance 
which is all the inheritance that other 
animal species have, a social inheritance 
which gives him the present realities and 
the future possibilities of a social evolu- 
tion in addition to his more personal 
evolution, has in his own hands a great 
instrument for determining the fate of 
himself as species; the future of mankind. 
This, of course, is what the preacher and 
the poet have always said -about man, 
though on a basis of other conceptions as 
to how man has been given this power. 
But whatever the foundations for the 
agreement between scientist and preacher 
in their common conclusion, the interest- 
ing and important thing is that they do 
agree and hence that they can reinforce 
each other in appealing to man con- 
sciously to direct his efforts, with all his 
advantage of scientific knowledge and all 
his strength of belief, to the production 
of a higher, a socially and morally higher, 
future man type. 

Thus these discussions of "human life 
138 



AS THE BIOLOGIST SEES IT 

as a biologist sees it " seem to have a 
proper moral, even as tested by so suspi- 
cious a critic of biology as religion. After 
all, the biologist does not see human life, 
in its larger and higher aspects, so differ- 
ently from the everyday observer or the 
poet and preacher. He sees wonderful 
possibilities in it, which man himself 
can help to make realized. Now if only 
the everyday observer, poet, and preacher 
would see human life in regard to those 
aspects on which the biologist is able to 
throw some special light, more as the 
biologist sees it, everything would be all 
right. The biologist is quite convinced 
on the basis of a kind of knowledge 
which, on the whole, has proved itself 
to all the world as a reliable kind of 
knowledge, and one that stands the 
test of time and liveableness, that man 
can learn much about himself from bio- 
logical study, and rely much on what he 
learns in this way to help make his life 
safer and saner, and himself more capable 
of achievement, and hence happier. Bi- 
139 



HUMAN LIFE 

ology is not a science for its own sake 
alone. It is a science eminently useful 
and practical to man and at the same 
time it is a science highly inspiring to 
him. For if it be depressing, as it may 
be to some, though it is not to me, that 
it teaches him that man's life is close 
brother to all the rest of life, yet it is 
inspiring in that the same time it reveals 
how wonderfully much has been done by 
Nature in making man, and how now 
man has been let into partnership with 
Nature for making better man. We are 
not a foreign matter or being imposed on 
Nature but Nature's own proudest prod- 
uct. And the power we have for further 
and higher development is not our own 
unaided power but that of our own and 
Nature's in combination. It is a com- 
bination that should have almost limitless 
possibilities. 



140 



THIS BOOK IS DUE ON THE LAST DATE 
STAMPED BELOW 



AN INITIAL FINE OF 25 CENTS 

WILL BE ASSESSED FOR FAILURE TO RETURN 
THIS BOOK ON THE DATE DUE. THE PENALTY 
WILL INCREASE TO 5O CENTS ON THE FOURTH 
DAY AND TO SI.OO ON THE SEVENTH DAY 
OVERDUE. 

BIOLOGY LIBRARY 



OCT 2-1- 1932 
NOV 18 193 

APR 14 1933 



DEC 



2 J940 



FEB 22 1945 



APR 17 1956 

APR 1 7 1956 

AUG7-1959 



DEC 1 1 1961 



30No'6lGC 



NOV 51968 
10 



LD 2i- 






4 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY